Our Lady of Good Counsel High School’s Stefon Colbert, a starting safety on the football team, was pulled aside by assistant coach one day during his sophomore year. The coach said Auburn University, the defending national champions, had offered Colbert a scholarship.
Immediately, Colbert smiled. Nearly as soon after, his teammates began teasing him.
“You got offered, and you think you’re big time now?” they joked, but he didn’t mind. His football prospects were rising meteorically.
“It was exciting,” Colbert said. “It was really exciting.”
Colbert added offers from Virginia Tech and North Carolina State, and ESPN still ranks him the No. 26 2013 recruit in the state of Maryland
But Colbert didn’t play football this fall, and he doesn’t plan to play football ever again due to an injury.
Colbert wrote a poem for an assignment in elementary school, and when it was selected to be displayed in the media center, he was hooked.
“It was easy for me to fit words on a piece of paper that rhymed and felt good,” Colbert said. “It ended up being a release for myself.”
He’s even self-published three books of poetry on LuLu.com. Since his injury, he’s spent more time on his poetry, including his second book, “Overcoming the Struggle.” That book includes the piece excerpted in this article.
Its tile: “Strength in Patience.”
“Night falls darkening the halls
making it nearly impossible to see
the figure who calls me.”
Colbert was diagnosed with a herniated disc during the fall of his junior year. He still doesn’t know what caused it, though he suspects improper technique while lifting weights.
Immediately, it became clear his football career had ended.
“I understood it,” Colbert said. “But it was a little bit of a shocker.”
“I squint and focus
Looking for some signal,
But no sign shows
The identity of the figure standing tall.”
Colbert seems to have handled the setback better than could be expected. But the hardest part about moving on was calling the college coaches who’d offered him scholarships.
“One, because my phone skills are not that great,” Colbert said. “And two, because I didn’t really feel comfortable telling people that had these high hopes for me that I wasn’t going to be able to meet that.”
“Now between you and me
I was scared as can be
looking for an escape out this dismal place.”
One reason Colbert moved on so well was he simply decided he’d devote his energy into track, a sport in which he’d earned All-Gazette honors as a sophomore.
Colbert returned to running last spring, but his back injury slowed him.
“Personally, I think I was fine,” Colbert said. “But, actually ... looking at it from the object[ive] point of view, I kind of rushed back.”
The injury still affects Colbert at times now, but he’s working past it and impressing his new coach just as he impressed Good Counsel football coach Bob Milloy.
“He’s an extremely, polite, respectful young man,” Good Counsel track coach Ron McGaw said. “He’s very interested in track and field. He wants to do well. He wants to find out what he can do to himself better in the sport.”
Recently, Colbert asked McGaw about joining the track team at East Carolina University, one of two schools that have accepted Colbert. (Towson University, which doesn’t sponsor a men’s track team, is the other.)
Now, Colbert can put his phone practice to good use, because rather than college teams pursuing him, he must convince college coaches he deserves a spot on the squad.
Colbert, many times, dwells on the past — his on-field decisions when he was playing football, his strategies during races, his decision to attend private school rather than the public school in Columbia, where lives — but the injury has been different.
“This situation, for some reason, was a lot easier to just reconcile with,” Colbert said. “I guess because of the fact that there’s not really anything that I can do now to change it, and I’m very aware of that.”
“Stuck in place, I calmly wait.
It was then I could see
The shadow falling to its knee
was my doubt and fear
falling victim to my prosperity”