Sometimes a fresh start is just what an athlete needs to find motivation again.
For one area football player, a new outlook and a new program has brought him back to the game he loves.
“The newspaper article you (wrote) really made me realize that if I don’t play now I probably never will,” 2009 Waterloo grad Tom Bourgeois told this reporter after the Republic-Times published a recent article on his family’s tradition and ties with the Waterloo High School football program.
At 21 years old, he is three years removed from a college ball career in which he first red-shirted for McKendree his freshman year as a defensive lineman, and never returned to the field. But he decided to get back into the game alongside his brother, Clayton, in the new football program at Lindenwood University’s Belleville campus.All-State football player and Columbia senior Charles Farris (center) signed his National Letter of Intent to play football for Lindenwood-Belleville last Tuesday. The running back is joined by sister Ashlyn and mother Leah Farris (bottom row) along with CHS principal Jason Dandurand, CHS athletic director Joe Iorio, CHS football coach Scott Horner and his father, Chuck Farris. (Kermit Constantine photo)
“I just needed a nudge toward the right school and the right location,” he said. “It’s just a total bonus that my little brother is graduating (high school) and planning to play at the same time. Together we sat down and agreed that we really wanted to go to Lindenwood.”
Tom and his brother are not the only local students who have decided the Lynx program is right for them. Seven area football players have signed or are on the verge of signing with Lindenwood-Belleville, two of whom received All-State accolades this past season: Colurumbia’s Charles Farris (running back) and Tom’s brother Clayton (linebacker). They could be joined by Ben Demoulin (linebacker), Columbia; Eric Read (wide receiver), Columbia; Tyler Magruder (wide receiver), Red Bud/Culver Stockton; and Adam Jackson (lineman), Columbia.
“We just really wanted to hit this area hard,” Lindenwood-Belleville assistant coach Tyler Truttman, a 2008 Columbia grad himself, explained. “If we can control Southern Illinois, this is a hotbed for football. If we can get a lot of these guys to go to Lindenwood instead of McKendree or going up north to play ball somewhere, we can be successful.”
So far, the program is on the right track. It finished with a record of 4-6 in its inaugural season last year, and is making a name for itself with both its now-famous candy cane-striped field and its local talent.
“There is a lot of talent here. So if we can get a lot of kids from this area it will also keep the community interested,” Truttman said. “They know the names and everyone is familiar with the Reads and the Bourgeois. If they hear that name is playing at Lindenwood they might come out and watch.”
Being part of the community is something that brought Tom back to the game as well. Making the ties between himself, his family and the Lynx mutually beneficial, he said.
In turn, the Lynx were drawn to the bond shared by the Bourgeois brothers.Lindenwood-Belleville has seven potential local players signing for next fall, including Eric Read (center), who is pictured with Jim Read (left) and Sue Dersch (right); and back row: CHS principal Jason Dandurand, Lindenwood-Belleville assistant coach Tyler Truttmann and CHS athletic director Joe Iorio. Eric Read signed his National Letter of Intent to play football for the Lynx Feb. 19. (Teryn Schaefer photo)
“They’re familiar with each other,” Truttman explained. “It’s always tough for the high school senior, he’s got a lot to adjust to. The college school courses, going off and being with people he has never met before, also playing collegiately, so you are a step up.”
Tom agrees, saying he feels more mature physically and is more ready to take on the challenges of being a college athlete than when he was 18. He is also familiar with many of the players and coaches who have transferred from his old school, McKendree. This includes Lynx head coach Jeff Fischer, who was the former Bearcats offensive coordinator.
Tom, along with his brother and the other local Lynx players, are excited to be involved with the developing program.
“Since I quit playing, I really feel like I have been missing out on a big part of my life.”
Now he has a chance to get that part back.