Winning teams are not born, they’re built and the Valley College football team is a perfect example of how hard work and staunch commitment—for the team and to the community—can result in great achievements. As the 2016 California Community College American League Champions, our Monarch football team has learned a thing or two about success this semester—rule #1: Don’t be late!
By D.R. Harward, Managing Editor
Defensive end Dillon Knight begins the day at 4 a.m. when he reluctantly rolls out of bed, splashes some water on his face and grabs a bite to eat. He leaves his home in Palmdale, California before 6 to ensure that he won’t be late to football practice, almost 60 miles away in Valley Glen. Knight drives over 100 miles per day and in doing so he spends almost ⅕ of his day trapped behind the wheel and stuck in traffic.
Cornerback Donzale Roddie also starts his day at a time when many Monarchs are still fast asleep, waking up at around 5 A.M. to ensure that his daily commute from Compton to Valley Glen will get him there on-time for the morning practice. Although he drives almost 80 miles and through some of the worst traffic in the nation; nevertheless he is almost always bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to lend a hand where he sees that one is needed.
The 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sewell, Jr. (Safety) was apprehensive about taking part in the bone marrow donor drive held recently on campus. He was not worried about his personal discomfort, should he be selected, rather he was concerned about not being a match. He was very invested in maximizing the possibility of saving someone’s’ life and dismissed any discomfort or hardship he might experience to do so.
Wide receiver Ahkil Crumpton may have an only 15-minute drive to campus, but he is a long way from home. A superstar at West Catholic High in Philadelphia, Crumpton led his team to win their eighth-straight title and was named as one of the top five college prospects in his league. Crumpton pulled up his roots, walked away from his college prospects in Pennsylvania and moved across the country to become a Monarch. At Valley he says that he found a second family and a home.
The Star sat down and spoke with Crumpton, Sewell, Roddie and Knight to get some insight on how they got to the top of their league.
Why do you attend Valley College?
“I feel like it is a family here,” said Dillon Knight “When I first came here I went to all the junior colleges in the area, but I felt a real connection with Valley.”
“Coming from Compton, it is a great opportunity for me,” said Donzale Roddie, “It’s a great school and coach Tucker runs a great defensive game.”
“We are really like family on the team,” added Michael Sewell, Jr. “We all work for each other, we all work together and are with each other every day–we expect the person next to us to work as hard as we do, so we push each other to keep (being) motivated.”
“I see every one here more than my real family” confessed Knight as his teammates nodded.
“Back home (in Philadelphia, PA) there are not too many good CC’s,” explained Akhil Crumpton, “California has the best community college system, so I decided I want to go to school out here.” He initially attended Pierce College in Woodland Hills but soon migrated to Valley because it was a “better fit.”
What is the end-game for student athletes at a community college?
“To transfer to a Division I college,” said Sewell, “Coaches love winners, so I will be transferring soon.”
“And from there go pro,’ interjected Crumpton.
Sewell, Roddie and Crumpton are all enjoying their second year in the Monarch football program, which was also phenomenally successful last year, with nine wins to only one loss.
Sports seems to be the last bastion of superstition with their attendant good-luck rituals, are there any such activities taking place in the locker rooms at Valley?
Three of the four players said, “Spaghetti” almost simultaneously–the other added, “Well, it is kind of spaghetti-like.”
Sewell said, “It’s our pre-game ritual. Every Saturday we eat spaghetti–and then we win.”
In a subsequent interview the CCCAA American Division Football Coach of the Year Robert Tucker explained, he said, “There’s no magic involved, you have to get something in you–to fuel up before the game–and spaghetti works well because almost everyone likes spaghetti.” While the coach downplays their pre-game nosh, the fact that there is a nosh at all demonstrates an unusually high commitment to the well-being of the students under his care.
What advice would you give to a younger sibling about attending college?
“LA Valley is a great opportunity to come up and become a Division 1 player,” said Sewell “Here you can develop your game, get better and learn how to really play football. Valley College just lets you excel, if you want to.” He went on to say that he has recently encouraged two of his cousins to enroll at Valley.
“Don’t be late!” they all said. “Whatever you do don’t be late,” added Crumpton. No one would elaborate on what happened to football players who were late.
Crumpton added the last words, “AGGG–All Glory Goes to God.”
“Amen” everyone agreed.