The journey for the USC football team this season begins with the Trojans’ first game against Fresno State. This is a big year for the Trojans and players are motivated to dominate for reasons bigger than themselves. They continue to acknowledge that it’s more than playing football.
The student-athletes are expecting to have an impactful season for their families and the young people in their communities looking up to them. It’s a widely-held assumption that when you play the sport you love with a “why” behind your passion, people tend to rally behind you mainly because they can relate to your story.
These individuals can identify with this purpose because they come from a similar background or feel inspired to follow their passions. A few USC players received the chance to speak about their motivated purpose.
USC running back Stephen Carr had to deal with adversity before his college career got started. The challenges he faced proved to be motivation for help him to get to where he is now. Carr is a hard-nosed player with toughness and isn’t willing to back down from anybody.
Just to illustrate this point, during a recent fall training camp practice, Carr went running into a pile of defensive backs which resulted in a fumble and turnover. The Trojans’ defensive backs instantly celebrated on the field with enthusiasm. The reserves were fired up after the play. Carr got up on his feet and made a declaration to the defensive unit that this deal was not over with.
“I’m coming back, though,” Carr said. “I’m coming right back.”
Carr backed up his words. The very next play the USC standout came back with a powerful run.
“You can’t get deterred in times like that,” Carr said. “That’s when you rise. You see the next play I came harder. No man will stop me.”
That mentality is the heart of a lion. Not everyone has that driving force, the will, the persistence to challenge themselves not to quit. Having a little bit of inspiration doesn’t hurt, he said.
“My driving force is my family,” Carr said. “Secondly, it’s myself. If I see other people doing it, I say why can’t I do it.”
Carr is focused on the team’s success. He knows in football you won’t win if you’re focused on your own individual success.
“I look forward to my whole team succeeding,” said Carr. “We have a very electric team, and a very strong defense.”
Carr is not the only USC player that believe that football is something bigger than themselves. Sophomore offensive tackle Jalen McKenzie wants his presence as a football player at USC to be influential influence to young people.
“I want to play for a lot of reasons,” McKenzie said. “I grew up playing football with my friends. It’s a lot of people wishing they can be in my spot or they are working towards the same goal. I don’t take any days out here for granted because I know how quick it can be taken away and how lucky I am to be here. I play for the love of the game, for the people who are watching me, for the people who believe in me, and the people looking up to me.”
McKenzie is a passionate leader who enjoys giving advice to young kids who aspires to be in his position.
“I have to quote Nipsey,” McKenzie said. “He said, it’s no formula. I can give no secret. I don’t have all the answers. But one thing I do know is I didn’t quit. I had a lot of bumps in the road, especially dealing with football, school, everything. If you give it your all, you are still going to have the feeling of what you’re searching for.”
These young guys are demonstrating to people that if you stay focused on your “why” with passion, you will find your motivated purpose and great things will happen. Announcing it to the world and leading by example shows character, poise and humility. It’s a bright future for the humble, selfless, talented young men representing USC football.