My name is Kevin Talley, and I am a 23-year-old, fifth-year senior at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia. I am originally from Newport News,Virginia, and attended Warwick High School. I am a psychology major, and my top career goal is to play in the National Football League. Once I retire, or if the NFL does not work out, I want to coach, teach, or work with children in some other capacity.
I have had many different sports experiences throughout my life. In high school, along with football, I also played basketball and soccer. But I chose to stick with my first love, football. I played running back and linebacker in high school and was a teammate of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. That was really unbelievable—to play with such a great athlete. He made all of us better just by playing against him in practice every day and learning from his talents.
Playing football has really helped me learn and grow as a person. Football teaches you teamwork—being on a team of 80 or 90 players and lining up with ten others on every play makes you learn to communicate with others, learn their tendencies, and learn camaraderie. Playing sports also teaches you hard work. The games are the most fun part of sports, but practice and studying film are probably the most important parts. You have to be able to prepare and work harder than everyone else, because there is always somebody out there working just as hard, or even harder, than you are. You have to want it more than they do, and that means putting in the extra time and work to make yourself better.
I’ve been blessed to play football at the college level, and it’s been fun doing it at an HBCU like Norfolk State. Sports at an HBCU are truly unique. The crowds and fans really love the school and their team, and it makes you feel like part of a big family. There are a lot of traditions at NSU that make it special to play for the school; the Spartan Calvary is one of the more devoted fan groups around, and you can hear them and feel their spirit on game day. Then there’s our marching band—the Spartan Legion—which, in my opinion, is the best HBCU marching band. No one puts on a show before, during, and after the games like they do.
My advice to future athletes is to always set bigger and better goals for yourself and never stop no matter what happens. I thought about giving up football a couple years ago when my mom passed away, but some coaches and friends convinced me to stick with it, and that quitting is never the answer. They were right—I had an unbelievable season in 2003 that showed me what perseverance can do. And it’s because I set goals for myself and kept working out and practicing that I have had some success so far. Now that I’ve met some of my goals, it’s time to re-evaluate them and set the bar higher to push myself to be the best. That’s what every champion, every competitor, should do.