Editor's Note: Athletes can continue their sporting careers in different leagues and levels throughout the United States but they are not limited to playing in this country. Other countries seek out our nation's elite athletes to provide high levels of play but these athletes' value isn't limited to their playing ability. U.S. Athletes take on the duties of a player, position coach, and coordinator when playing abroad. These athletes are not only spreading their wealth of knowledge to athletes in other countries, but are also enriching themselves through traveling overseas and being engulfed into a different culture. They are living the dream. Here's the first installment of James Springfield's once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing in France.
The Opportunity of a Lifetime: From Memphis to France
By James Springfield Jr.
January 28, 2014 is a day I will never forget. That was the day I left Memphis, Tennessee to continue my football career in France. Before I left, I set three goals for myself. The first goal was to be the best Defensive Tackle in France, the second goal was to help better my teammates on the field. The third goal was to play every play as hard as I possibly could and to help my team win at all costs. The night before my flight to France, I couldn’t sleep a wink. I was nervous, excited, and eager to display to my team and Europe my style of play. It also didn’t help that I had to pack all night because I kept double and triple checking that I had everything I needed. After I finished packing I had a moment to myself. I fell across my bed and reflected on all of the hard work I put in to receive this contract, this trip to France, this opportunity of a lifetime. I started visualizing the plays I would make in the big stadiums, I imagined celebrating with my teammates after touchdowns and sacks, and then I got snapped back to reality.
My cousin knocked on my door and told me that it was time to go. I grabbed my bags and out the door I went. I got in the car ready and my cousin asked, “Are you ready for your journey?” I could only respond with one thing, “I was born ready!” On the way to the airport I received a text from my trainer wishing me luck and to ensure that I remembered all of my training and to play every snap in a way that would make the other team remember my name! The anticipation was building and my eagerness to compete was growing. Once we arrived at the airport my cousin got out of the car and helped me with my bags and said his goodbyes. He said, “Love you Cuz, now go ball out.” I looked at him, smiled, and confidently said, “You already know.” As I turned around, I stared at those airport doors and thanked God for this unique and amazing opportunity that I was blessed with! As I walked through the doors with a smile that no one could erase off my face I said it's been a long time coming! France here I come!