There are plenty of examples throughout sports history of backups playing hero for their team.
We’ve had it right here in our coverage area.
Benjamin Russell graduate Terrell Owens wasn’t even a starter when he played for the Wildcats, and now he’s a household name and he’s a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
More recently, Wetumpka’s highly touted quarterback, JD Martin, went down with a season-ending injury during practice, and people thought the Indians, who had made it to the state championship the year prior, were doomed. They thought Wetumpka’s season was basically over before it began. Then in waltzed Tyquan Rawls, who took over the quarterback position and led the Indians back to the state semifinals.
Look at Central Coosa’s boys basketball team, which won the state championship. Although Quin Brooks was a regular starter, he wasn’t a regular double-digit scorer and he was the youngest on the squad. But Coosa coach Jeremy Freeman constantly preached teamwork and everyone being a part of the great whole, and Brooks stepped up when the team needed him most and scored the game-winning basket with under two seconds to go.
That’s all to say, it’s not a cliché for coaches to say backups should always be ready for their names to be called.
It happens from youth sports all the way up to the pros. There are tons of examples of supposed “backups” or “benchwarmers” who end up being playmakers and game changers.
Just look at the New York Yankees, who are on pace for more than 250 home runs. And with a dilapidated bullpen like the Yankees have right now, they’ve needed quite a bit of offense to secure victories and because of their offensive prowess, they’re sitting atop the American League East standings by two games. But what’s particularly noteworthy about this year’s Yankees is just how much offense has been produced by guys who are recent Minor Leaguers or guys who weren’t expected to start.
“It’s crazy how guys come up (from Triple-A), hit a lot of homers,” Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier told ESPN.com. “I don’t think the league has really adjusted to some of the players yet, so you’ve got a ton of guys with a lot of talent, and they are making adjustments if they were pitched different than they were before.”
It’s impossible to have a story about the improbability of backups making a difference without mentioning Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Football fans around the state — Alabama and Auburn alike — and around the nation, for that matter, sat wide-eyed and slack-jawed as Tagovailoa threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith on second and 26 to win the national championship in overtime against Clemson. At the start of that game, Tagovailoa was sitting on the bench.
My point is it’s never too late to be the hero and you never know when your chance is going to come. A lot of players and even more parents get frustrated or upset when their kid isn’t on the field. They think their kid deserves to be the starter; they think their kid isn’t getting anything out of it if they aren’t on the field.
First and foremost, there is so much more to gain from sports than just playing time. Whether you’re a lifelong benchwarmer or the star quarterback, you’re still learning hard work and teamwork, how to get along with others and so many other life lessons.
But also, you just never know when your number is going to get called. You never know when there will be an injury ahead of you or someone needs a break due to dehydration — whatever the case may be. Being a backup doesn’t mean you won’t ever get your chance.