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Football player bonds withs teammates beyond football practices, games

With the start of a new football season, and for many their last, senior Anthony Diaz shares his thoughts on his last season of football and what the sport means to him, both on and off the field.

Diaz started playing football his sophomore year and credits his reason for joining the team to himself as well as his friends.

“I got myself into football,” Diaz said. “It was just something I always heard my friends talk about, so it was something I wanted to do.”

Football is not a traditional sport in the Diaz household, but Shauna Diaz, Anthony’s mother, remembers her husband’s influence on Anthony’s decision to play the sport.

Danielle Foster | The Feather Online

Anthony Diaz, ’19, enjoys the physical contact aspect of football.

“Anthony’s father played high school football and when he came back from the army, he even played football for Fresno State for awhile,” Shauna Diaz said. “Anthony’s father was a large influence on him because he’s always looked up to him, and Anthony wanted to make him proud by following his dad’s footsteps.”

Anthony plays multiple positions on the field. Each position is not the same to prepare for, as each requires their own set of skills.

“It’s different with each position because with offensive line you have 120 plus plays,” Anthony said. “You have to remember not only your job, but you have to realize that there’s other things happening around you and still keep that focus. With punting, it’s different because you’re not only receiving the ball, you’re trying to keep a cool head while people are rushing you and trying to get the ball from you.

“I also long snap, which is fun because it’s a difficult thing to do, so it sets me apart a little bit,” Diaz continued. “There’s people that can do it, but in order to do it good, it takes a long time. It’s something I happen to be good at without trying.”

Student athletes across America play sports for an abundance of reasons, whether they are forced to, want to be with friends, or truly enjoy the game, there are reasons students play sports. Diaz’s reason is the family aspect.

“I’ve played soccer, baseball and a lot of different sports and there is nothing like football,” Anthony said. “There is nothing like that family aspect. There is nothing like being able to hit someone really hard, but really there’s nothing like playing with family.”

Playing on the offensive line is an important position requiring the effort of every member to protect the quarterback. Teammate and fellow senior Austin Duffy shares his thoughts on Diaz.

“Anthony is a good player and helps out his teammates on the line,” Duffy said. “Anthony and I have fun playing on the offensive line together.”

A key bond is between the entire offensive line and the quarterback. Campus quarterback Jonah Lozano, ’19, shares his relationship and appreciation for Anthony on the field and off.

“My bond with the offensive line goes a lot further than just football itself,” Lozano said. “I’ve grown up with most of these guys and I know they are going to go all out and protect me and execute plays with full effort because they know I’m going to do the same for them. My relationship with the offensive line goes off the field. I’ve pushed them by encouraging them to lift and bond with them through experiences and good times I’ve had with them outside of school as well.

“Anthony is one of those guys I have a special connection with by competing with him daily with lifting weights and pushing ourselves with our diets and football knowledge,” Lozano continued. “I’ve known Anthony since 6th grade and had no idea that one day he’d be blocking for me on the football field, and with all honesty I couldn’t ask for a better offensive linemen– and that goes for all of my big men.”

courtesy Diaz family

Diaz recounts his early experiences on the baseball diamond, but enjoys the bond football players share.

Last year Diaz participated in coach Mick Fuller’s strength and conditioning class and also served as his 6th period TA. Fuller shares his insight on Diaz’s work ethic outside of football.

He broke his hand early on in the football season so his lifting was limited until the end of the season when the cast came off,” Fuller said. “Despite the limitation of not being able to do most of the lifts, he was still focused on getting stronger. He squatted and did lifts that didn’t require him to grip the bar.

“This allowed him to maintain a good baseline of strength that he successfully built on when he was finally cleared for all activities,” Fuller continued. “As a teacher’s aide he did everything I asked of him to the best of his ability. I relied on his help for many of the set-up duties for the various sporting events on campus”

Fuller appreciates Anthony’s determination to get back on the football field. He admires the encouragement that is brought out within Anthony’s character.

Anthony shares his own thoughts on what may just be his biggest triumph, playing an entire season with a broken hand.

The NFL’s Buffalo Bills drafted Anthony’s cousin, Josh Allen in this years draft at No. 7 overall and has served as a role model to Anthony.

“I look up to Josh because right before the draft started, there was a lot of things that he went through and he overcame them all and worked through it,” Anthony said. “Overall, he’s a really great guy and he gets along with pretty much everybody.”

Diaz plans to attend Fresno City College next year, then transfer to Fresno State. Diaz does not have an immediate desire to compete in college football, but has not ruled it out entirely. He plans to study pre-med and enter the medical field.

For more profiles, read PROFILE: Clovis North transfer finds purpose on teamFor more articles, read Join the Discussion: 2018 Summer Highlights.

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