What’s goin on?
Well, after just 36 carries, 143 yards and a touchdown since coming East in 2010, UConn tailback D.J. Shoemate’s college football career is over.
He’s known it for at least a couple of weeks. He had (left) shoulder surgery last week.
Here’s some thoughts D.J.’s shared on it all today….
“I’m pretty easy about it and I’ve come to the realization,” said the 6 foot, 219-pound Shoemate from Corona, Calif… “I’ve known for a couple of weeks now – maybe a month – that my college career as a football player would come to an end. I have a lot of peace in knowing that I will be getting my degree this spring and walking in the ceremony in May. I know I’m capable of many other things outside of playing football so…”
What happened? We thought there were ankle problems and all of a sudden we heard about the shoulder?
The shoulder actually popped out in the Iowa State game. I separated and dislocated my shoulder on the play before Scotty [McCummings] scored on the goalline. I remember my shoulder was actually out of the socket when I was going through a play-fake from Scotty.
How hard was it to come to the realization you were done? I mean there was the 4,5-star ranking coming out of Servite (We Serve Aiiight?!) High in Calif; going to USC; leaving and coming to UConn – all in the name of having a fulfilling career playing college football.
“Through the adversity and through the many obstacles I’ve learned a great deal. Through the obstacles and adversity I’ve grown as a person and it has molded me to the person I am today even though…you go through these obstacles and life goes on. You can’t sit and rot in your unfortunate situations or tough situations. You just got to keep striving for the ultimate goal whatever that goal may be that you set out for yourself. They’re all speed-bumps, they’re all certain things hat take you away, kind of put up a barrier in front of the ultimate goal you may have but in the end it’s how you respond to it. It’s how you allow yourself to grow from it.
So in effect this is your last week, really, with the program, right?
Having to focus on the intensive summer school classes I’ll be taking during the summer session I would be focusing, priority No.1 on school. I won’t be back. I’m done in August that’s when I officially complete my degree. As far as D.J. Shoemate being out there with the team and running around and participating in team events….this is my last week. I spoke with Coach [Paul] Pasqualoni [Monday] We had a one on one. He asked me, ‘What now’ with this decision of not coming back What do you want to do going forward as far as going to meetings and you participating in team events. I told him there’s no question that I’m going to be there to finish the spring with them to walk one more time in my jersey, suited up with my boys at Rentschler Field. I wanted to finish. I wanted to finish with them. I wanted to show them that I get peace and enjoyment in being around them. I get peace of mind knowing I have a team that I belong to and I can affiliate myself with. We went to war together, numerous practice; numerous plays.
No more football has to be tough but your background suggests you’ll be OK, right?
It’s very difficult because my identity has been influenced by playing football but throughout my life I can say football was not everything D.J. had. Football doesn’t make D.J.
What’s next? I heard something about TV?
I want to go back home and get settled there but I’ve always aspirations to be on television and being on ESPN or NFL Network or any other networks of that sort. Being around football and being a highly-recruited athlete an early age I had an opportunity to get the training of answering questions, doing interviews, being on camera….I enjoyed it.
(Shoemate will earn a sociology degree at UConn. He started on the Broadcast Journalism trip at USC but because the discipline wasn’t offered here and because he lost some credits transferring. Shoemate is getting his degree in sociology for which he already earned credits toward when he did transfer over).
What’s your mindset going forward, D.J., because I have understood for a while it’s not all about football with you? I also know Christ is at the head of your life and just based on that you will be allright.
You know, all in all I can say that through my journey – it has been a great one – there have been no regrets. I gave it my all. I played with my heart. I did everything I could do to perfect the gift that God gave me. Through my journey I’ve learned there are no boundaries when it comes to following your dream and following what makes you happy. And like I said on my twitter…you can’t judge a man by his occupation. You just can’t. It’s impossible. People do it but the characteristics and the moral strengths and ethical strengths and the intentions of these people cannot be warped in their job occupation – just because a person is a football player doesn’t me that they like this or they like that or because a person decides to wash clothes at a cleaners doesn’t mean this person is that. It’s more than that. People have been hand selected to do these occupations and you have to realize there comes a time in life where you’re going to have to serve and humble yourself and do everything you possibly do for the betterment of the world.
I remember one of my teachers used to say, ‘regardless of what you do, if you’re a football player or if you wash windows you do those to the best of your ability. You wash those windows to the best of your ability and have no regrets at the end of the day. Don’t settle for complacency and strive for greatness and all in all the world can grow.”
Shoemate loves kids and also has an eye on going to back to Cali and his high school to help out some kind of way.
Thanks for everything D