Sterling High School senior Jacob Landry knows what it feels like to lose a year of athletics.
His came by way of personal choices that went awry while the Class of 2021 and beyond members who were enjoying the spring sports season are now in jeopardy of losing this one because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two different causes with the same potential result.
“I think our situations compare because we are away from something we love,” Landry said. “My situation was because of a poor personal decision I regret, and theirs is because an unforeseen event prevents them from playing the game they love.”
During the 2018 football season, Landry let his emotions get the best of him and some negative interactions with coaching staff and a classmate. That led to a suspension from any football related activity for the remainder of the 2018-19 school year.
“As a result of my suspension, I wasn’t allowed to go to games, practices, basically anything that had to do with football,” Landry said. “But the worst punishment was the way the coaches seen me at that time. I was viewed as a cancer to the team and lost respect from my teammates because I let them down and most importantly my coaches.”
Both Landry and head football coach Robert Toomer agree the young man put too much pressure on himself to be the ideal quarterback and it got the best of him leading to his rash of outbursts.
“He was a kid who really wanted to be successful and lead his team, but one thing you can’t do is try too hard,” Toomer said. “It affects your thinking process. He had the ability to do it, but he kept getting in his own way, trying too hard. I tried to explain to him, sometimes you need some people to help show you where you want to go. He wanted to do it himself.”
Then came the bounce back once he rejoined the Rangers.
“Unless you take it upon yourself to redefine yourself, success is never going to happen,” Toomer said. “He didn’t miss a workout or a weight room session. Sometimes he’d be banged up and he didn’t want to miss practice and wanted every step. His transformation was amazing.”
Landry said he learned to keep a positive attitude during times of loss.
“They have to know that better days are ahead,” Landry said. “This unforeseen incident cannot let you lose sight of what’s in store for you in the future. This lost season is only temporary and should give you every more reason on why your next season should be one of your best seasons.
“Every man is defined by his actions in any given situation, so these times can either make or break you. I would advise you to make the most of these times by becoming a better version of yourself. I got over a lost season by focusing on next season and how I would come back a totally different player, and teammate.”
Greg Smith, boys basketball coach at Sterling, marvels at the young man Landry has become.
“Jacob is really the epitome of a kid that matured through his years in athletics and become an amazing human being,” Smith said. “He went through several rough patches in his four years at Sterling but persevered in order to accomplish his goals of playing sports at a high level. It is because of kids like this that make our job worth it and see him grow into the person he is today and hopefully that the man he will become.
“Getting through this virus is nothing compared to the four years that he as well as many others have gone through to accomplish their goals, as it hopefully has taught these kids that they will get through this as well.”
Landry bounced back to finish his senior campaign completing 54 percent of his passes for 1,090 yards 10 touchdowns and five interceptions and is heading to Texas Southern University to play football.
So how does an athlete stay positive in light of the uncontrollable?
“You can stay positive by always remembering this is only temporary,” Landry said. “Do not feel like this is everlasting. There will be a time where you can play again, but it’s up to you right now if you want to come back the same person and player you were before you left.
“The biggest lesson I learned is to never take the game for granted. You never know when your last play is, so you have to go 110 percent every time you suit up and play. The next lesson I learned is that you have help. Never feel like you’re going through something alone.”