Nov. 4, 2005
by Jesse Hulsing
The year is 2000, and you are Etiwanda High School superstar Chris Singleton.
Every game is easy, no matter the opponent, or the circumstances. When the ball touches your hands, crowds hold their breath, opponents cringe and coaches smile, as you breeze through holes and shed tacklers on your way to the end zone.
No one can stop you.
You are named league MVP as a senior, and why not? With 2,043 yards and 18 touchdowns to your credit, you're really the only choice. Mail isn't just stuffed in your mailbox, it is dropped in baskets on your porch -- recruiting letters, media guides, campus brochures, all sent to you by colleges competing for the right to pay for you to come to their school and become a superstar.
Everybody loves you.
After wading through the seemingly never-ending stream of information, you choose to join a historic Pac-10 school with one of the nation's longest-running winning traditions and a Rose Bowl trophy still being fitted for its spot on the shelf.
Nothing can possibly go wrong.
As a freshman, you are one of the few to see playing time, appearing on special teams before earning your first start the following season, at UCLA. On 20 carries, you rush for 94 yards. Local reporters call you the running back of the future, the next great NFL prospect.
You are set for life.
You rush for another 224 yards as a sophomore before suddenly, disaster strikes; you break your foot. No big deal, you figure. You'll have to redshirt your third year, but you'll still have two more years to shine afterward. One year later, however, the foot hasn't healed. You carry the ball just one time, for zero yards, as the team that was ranked third in the country the year before you arrived struggles to a 1-10 record.
Now, just three games remain in a career that never had a chance to get off the ground. Are you bitter? Do you give up?
Not if you're the real Chris Singleton; not if you see something positive in even the most painful struggles.
"Ninety-five percent of athletes come in with one goal, saying, `I'm going to go to the league,'" he says. "But my goal was and still is to take any opportunity given to me and make the best of it. I believe I have done that. I have done my best, whenever possible. I believe as long as you live your life that way, and do your best whenever given the chance, you'll be successful in whatever you do."
Is this guy for real? How can he not feel cheated by fate, after all that he has been through? Singleton says that his positive outlook on life, and his ability to keep his head up in the face of adversity and keep on pushing towards his goals, are traits given to him by his father, Joe.
"He has been through a lot," he says. "My dad has an artery disorder, to where he has no legs, and he lost his right arm. But his attitude everyday in life is, `Up and up.' You have to deal with the cards that are dealt. Things don't always go your way, but how you handle adversity is what defines you as a person."
Singleton, who will soon complete a double major in political economy and economics, sees playing at UW as an opportunity to better himself as a person, using the classroom and the field as his tools, and hopes other players can learn a lesson from his example.
"There's no problem in having fun and enjoying your college experience, but it's important to remember the responsibility you have in the classroom," he says. "It is a crime to people everywhere, who look up to you and want to be like you, for you not to get an education. It is free; it is right there in front of you -- all you have to do is grasp it. As much as you might want to grasp a starting position, you should want to grasp a good education more, because that will set you up for life. Things don't come easy, so appreciate every opportunity you have, and don't complain."
The year is 2005, and you are Husky senior tailback Chris Singleton -- with a limitless number of opportunities just waiting for you to grasp.