Brad Avila shares a victory jump with a teammate after making a crucial block.
Story by Kathrine Flores
Early nights. Earlier wake-up call. Long days. Countless hours watching film. Spring and summer training.
The life of a college football player is consumed by preparing for one day, each week during the fall. Brad Avila is a linebacker for the Missouri Valley Vikings football team. A junior transfer from Merced, California, Brad has felt the pressure to push himself more this year than ever.
“Defensively, we’re full of talent. The defense is full of playmakers,” Avila said. “So it’s kind of hard to make a tackle…tackles don’t come easy to me like they did last year” while at Merced Junior College.
Avila is coming off of two very successful, individual years at Merced College but, because the team is “full of talent” at Valley, he is struggling to come close to what his stats showed from the past two years.
“At the juco, I did really well, made a lot of plays…tackles. My freshman year I was First Team All-Conference. Last year I was First Team All-Conference and All-State,” said Avila.
Avila’s individual performance at his previous school motivates him to push that much harder this year with more talented athletes playing his position. At Merced, Avila ended his season with 10 tackles per game and is frustrated with 3 tackles per game.
“It is nice having other players that can make plays but then again…I’m so used to making plays that… when I don’t make plays it’s like, am I not doing it right, am I playing bad,” said Avila.
Valley’s defense is full of talent, according to Avila, but what makes a good defensive player?
“Instinct. You have to be ruthless, you have to be fast to the ball, a good tackler. The main thing would be the mental part of it,” said Avila.
Some athletes believe that thinking too much can be a distraction while performing, Avila is no different.
“I am still uncomfortable with the plays. I know them but I have only been here for two months and all these other guys…played last year so I’m still trying to get my fit,” said Avila.
Though thinking can be negative on the field, off the field it is crucial for Avila in order to mentally prepare for a game.
“Watching film, looking over defensive scouting reports helps out, too. And prayer,” said Avila.
Avila is quiet off the field but makes sure he is heard on the field. Starting in seven games this season, Avila is noticed by his coaches but he is hungry for more.
Early nights, earlier wake-up calls and long practices are the foundation for Avila. Avila’s extra work that he puts in is what he hopes will push him to success.
Brad Avila is a junior transfer from Hilmar, California.