Tuesday, August 25, 2015

So Say Geronimo: A Walk-On From Leafa With An Uplifting Upbringing

Hachiman Hikigaya and Yui Yuigahama, 
the grandparents of Leafa Spirit CB Geronimo Hikigaya on his father's side.

So Say Geronimo: A Walk-On From Leafa With An Uplifting Upbringing

By Carol Craftman
The Spirit News
August 3, 2076

Soujiro Geronimo Sheppard Hikigaya is not your ordinary cornerback. One of three new players to the team alongside fellow walk-on Felipe Baloy "Lloy" Auerbach and signee LaVerne "Vern" Dahlgren, the first-year defensive back from Brisbane is the great-grandson of Australian musician George Sheppard on his mother's side and the grandson of Hachiman Hikigaya and Yui Yuigahama on his father's side. Known simply as Geronimo for his fondness of Sheppard's signature ballad, he hopes to make a massive impact after impressing at the trials in June at Subaru Pleiades Stadium.

"Before I decide to venture here, on occasions I sometimes would pass by my great-granddad's tomb to talk with him spiritually about where I am now, where I plan to be 10 years, 15 years from now," so said Geronimo from his dorm room on campus. "He tells me, 'either you're gonna grow up to be a fantastic musician like me when I was alive, or you will choose your own path, and there are a lot.' I chose the not-so-beaten path of being a professional American football player because of the success of the Leafa Spirit.

(fourth from left) George Sheppard, 
a great-grandfather of Geronimo Hikigaya on his mother's side.

"I wasn't recruited by anybody; in fact, I never even played the sport recreationally outside of the flag variant. But when I tried out for the team, I was told that there was depth at the quarterback position, so that was unfortunate. My second option was to play defensively. I wanted to catch passes but at the same time hit people with the same ferocity my granddad Hachiman had in his day.

"After the trials, I meet with Coach Harding in a face-to-face session. He told me, 'Gero, you've done it, my man. Welcome to the Spirit Gridiron Team, you're on scholarship for the next four years.' I say, 'Really? I haven't played competitive tackle gridiron and I make the team? I'm over the moon. Thanks, Coach!' He then says, 'Train hard and get set for the first-year camp we give to new players next month. You'll be competing to get a start when we face UCLA in late August. Good work, Gero.'

"At that point as I left his office, I pinched myself a few times.  My old man would be so happy for me if he was able to see this day. I can feel his love. I can feel it. So this year, I want to have everybody say my name out loud and proud this Spring. Let's dive into the waterfall together. It's not Soujiro, it's Geronimo. So say...Geronimo!"