To Begin Again | Teen Ink

To Begin Again

October 28, 2021
By bluedtke2025, Lomira, Wisconsin
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bluedtke2025, Lomira, Wisconsin
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A bright light was shining through the blinds of Alexander Johnson’s home in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. It was 8:30 in the morning on July 20, 2022, Alex’s dog Hector had wakened him up from his barking. Alex was shocked to see his mother who had a handful of football offers from D2 and D1 schools to show him. Some offers that had come in the mail that morning included colleges such as Wisconsin, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, SMSU, etc. The gentle morning breeze brushed cold against his skin. Alex was an upcoming senior at Stevens Point high school and was widely known throughout college football. Alex was a quarterback and had thrown over 7,000 yards last season. An unbeatable school record. This feat brought a lot of college attention to his name, along with the fact that he threw for 70 touchdowns. Today was the first morning workout for the start of the 2022 football season. As he turned on the radio he heard, 

“It was Alexander Johnson’s final year at Stevens Point and now everybody will be wondering if he is the guy for every college.” The radio commentator kept blabbing on about Stevens point upcoming season, but once Alex heard,

“People wonder and always ask, how will Alex play with his grandma having breast cancer and will be hospitilized for his games.” 

Alex turned his head so fast he went blurry for a couple seconds, and then he slammed the radio so it would shut off. After cooking a deliciously tasty breakfast that consisted of eggs, bacon, ham, and a bagel, Alex was ready to jump in the car. But before he could hop in his car he had to say something to a special person for always being his number one supporter. Alex’s grandma had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and was battling very hard while supporting Alex. Alex had seen her sitting in a wooden chair patiently waiting for him to sit next to her and proceed a prayer. She and Him prayed in harmony,

“In the name of the Lord we ask you to fulfill Alexander Johnson with strength and joy to keep fighting the demon inside him, we ask you to clear any demon thoughts from his head and make a path to succeed in football again. Amen.”

She opened her eyes and smiled at Alex while she lifted her body from the wooden stool chair. 

After a couple of minutes, Alex finally got in his car and turned the key, ROAR! The car made a weird sound but Alex was used to it as his car was about 30 years old. As he backed up out of the driveway he asked Siri, 

“Set destination to Stevens Point High school”. Siri responded with 

“Setting destination to Stevens Point High school.”

Alex used the highway to quickly get to the high school and was cruising for a good ten minutes without any stops. His car was cruising up to the intersection slowing down as he inched closer. After waiting for the light to turn green he pressed on the gas pedal and start to proceed forward. From the corner of his eye he saw a red car speeding up toward him he closed his eyes... SMASH!! BOOM!! CRACKLE!! Alex couldn’t believe his eyes as he was t-boned in the middle of the intersection. 

People would later say he had a stroke of good luck, but he doesn’t believe that as he was diagnosed with slight brain damage. Luckily he still remembered about 90% of everything from the past. 

About a week later Alex was cleared to do activities that weren’t involved with contact. He had been stuck at home watching quarterbacks and studying their movements as he didn’t remember anything besides being able to run and throw. Today was the day the doctors would finally let him have a private workout teaching him everything from bottom to top. To start the coaches went over how to receive a snap and drop back into the pocket. This task was about being patient with himself and focusing on one thing.

Frustration and stress started to take over his life like a giant thunderstorm roaming through his head. His grandma had always been his supporter and in times of encouragement, she was always there for him. Times have changed with her breast cancer taking over her life, but throughout all the pain she still gave all of her attention to Alex. Alex had been going through the basics of quarterback and when he got frustrated with himself his grandma was always on the sideline giving him that extra push. Even though he messed mostly every time his grandma was always there to give him the dedication to keep going. The sun didn’t always shine on days that he worked out but his grandma always brought a special type of sun with her and turned stress and frustration into energy and determination. 

People started to doubt Alex as time went on and the football season inched towards him due to his injury. Many colleges pulled away from him, but he kept moving forward, trying to go back to his old self. He started to redevelop quickly and made minor changes to his playstyle. The football season was coming even closer, but he luckily kept getting closer and closer to old form. A couple of days have passed since Alex had been cleared to play high school football and only a few days await him before his first game. Alex has spent the last 5 days studying everything revolving around football and anything that would help him against a fellow rival PJ Jacobs. He worked harder than ever, working non-stop on how to read a defense and see what coverages they are playing. He also has been watching quarterbacks in the NFL and watching how they move and play so he can become just at good and even better than them. 

It was August 19th, only two days away from his first game, but today everything seemed off. The breeze was colder and more violent than normal, although the sun wasn’t blinding him today. His grandma was back in the hospital getting help from all the nurses. This wasn’t normal because she was always such a strong woman, who did things on her own. Alex had eaten breakfast and was walking out in the cold, and his hair was flying all over the place because of the mad, windy weather along to his car and he felt his phone, BUZZ BUZZ. He extended his hand into his pocket and pulled out his phone. The name on the screen read Mother. So, of course, he had to answer it and as he situated it up to his ear he could hear people running down the hallway in the hospital as if something had gone wrong. She started weeping and trying to sound out words that Alex could not understand, she wept,

“Alex honey, I am at the hospital right now and, your grandma she, she, she had a heart attack, I’m so so sorry honey.” Alex cried. 

“Is she ok?” His mom wept again and again.

“She, she, didn’t make it...”

Alex stood outside his car speechless with his mouth locked wide open, he felt his heart drop out of his body and onto the ground. He didn’t believe a word she had just told him and his phone fell straight out of his hand and smashed on the ground. Alex had just lost the only person that kept him going after his accident. She was the only one that didn’t doubt him, she always believed that he could restart and be better than before. Hours had passed, Alex had been mourning the whole time, and just looking at photos of him and his grandma made him overthink about who he really had left to talk to. Thinking about the passing of his grandmother was his achilles heal. It was 8 p.m on a Thursday, Alex had been studying PJ Jacob’s film, along with his playbook. However, he was in so much pain he could not concentrate whatsoever. The night was crawling upon him and he kept having flashbacks, but also kept trying to study his playbook and his opponent’s play type. After minutes of just laying in his bed, Alex could feel this sudden urge of dedication and emotion. Words that read “Just because your grandma isn’t here next to you doesn’t mean she’s not watching you,” replayed in his devastated head.

After he heard this he knew that no matter what the situation happened to be, she would always be with him in spirit. And from that point on Alex knew that everything he ever did in his life was for her. BEEP!!! BEEP!!!! He woke up to his loud alarm clock beeping straight into his eardrum. Finally got up and realized that today was his first game back. Excitement and joy shot him up and got him dressed in an instant. He ran down the steps with a massive smile that could be contagious anywhere he would go. As time passed the only emotion he could feel was the feeling of dedication to win for his grandma. 

The drive up to the field was the most joyful time he had felt since his accident. This game was a way to prove to all the doubters and scouts that no matter the incident you can always overcome adversity. As the clock signaled and finally hit zero, Alex’s whole team was jumping up and down screaming like the little kids they once were. Stevens Point had beaten PJ Jacobs 24-14, and Alex threw for 3 touchdowns! This win was the biggest in Alex’s high school career because it showed the doubters and scouts that he was back to his old self and all of this was in honor of his grandma. 

Days went by and Alex kept up his work ethic and worked harder and harder every day to be better than ever before. Game 2 of the season was inching closer and closer to Alex. In this game, they played Defton Highschool. They weren’t as good in talent as PJ Jacobs, but Alex still needs to ball out to give his team the win.

Alex had never played so well in his life, even before the accident. When the clock hit zero seconds left Stevens Point had beaten Defton 41-8. Alex threw for 5 touchdowns! Stevens Point defense played outstanding. 

As the season moved by quickly Stevens Point was on a roll. Coming into the playoff with a 9-3 record, this was the best record in the conference. They entered with the first seed, their first game was against the 8 seed Defton who had a 3-9 record. With Alex back to his old self, Stevens Point had breezed through the first couple of rounds in the playoffs. And finally, after the accident, he was getting scholarship offers back. But mostly only from D2 schools and a couple of small D1 schools. The final game of Alex’s career was also the most important to him and his future. If he walked away with a win here then he would be noticed by big schools and have a good future. Three quarters have passed by and the game is tied 28-28. It is the 4th quarter with 20 seconds left and Alex throws the deep ball to his receiver TOUCHDOWN!!!!!! Stevens Point wins!!!!!! Alex had just done the impossible for almost any quarterback who dealt with brain damage. As he fist-bumped his chest and pointed up to his grandma the sweet smell of victory came rushing through his nostrils. Everyone in the world now wondered what would happen to Alex in the future.

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