“I didn’t really know what to expect,” said quarterback Miles Richardson.
With the exception of one half played last year, he hadn’t started a game since high school. Now, as he headed into his first season with the Clan, he was the starter, the go-to guy. It’s a position he had wanted for three years, but it’s one that comes with enormous pressure.
“You kind of forget what it’s like to be in a game, and to be driving down the field with your teammates, just all those little things,” he explained.
It was a longer road for Richardson than most.
Recruited out of high school to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Eastern Washington University Eagles, initially it was a dream come true. Spending his redshirt and freshman season behind Vernon Adams, the two-time conference offensive player of the year and current Montreal Alouette, it was a great opportunity to learn and grow, while being at the highest level of football.
After Richardson’s freshman season, Adams transferred to the Oregon Ducks. Though this may have been an opportunity for the quarterback going into his sophomore year, the coaching staff went with another quarterback.
Then, seeking a new opportunity and still hungry to be a starter at a Division I school, he looked at his options. One of those options was SFU, but he wanted to leave the door open for returning to Division I.
“Especially in American culture, you’re kind of led to believe that when you’re in high school that Division I is everything.
Everyone was just talking about playing Division I and I was lucky enough to have a couple of opportunities,” he explained.
“When that opportunity didn’t really seem like the most feasible for my future, I still wanted to pursue the opportunity of playing Division I.”
With this in mind, he took the junior college route and enrolled at Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ, roughly 1,500 miles from his home in Burien, WA. A standout season at the junior college level could mean another shot at the Division I level.
His first game had been going well. Then, on the first play of the second half, it happened.
“I’m carrying out my fake to the left, after I handed off the ball, ended up seeing my running back cut back, and went to go make a block for him — which is not usually necessarily what a quarterback is quote-unquote supposed to do,” he said. “And we ended up getting into a scuffle, just with our feet, as I was trying to block him and I ended up doing a Jones fracture to the outer part of my left foot.”
“It’s going to take a lot more than a few losses to get me in a place where I’m not willing to keep going”
He was out for the season. And away from family, friends, and home, he still had to finish the academic year and achieve his associate’s degree if he wanted to go to a four-year school again.
“I had moved my entire life away from my family [and] the spouse that I now live with up here, just to pursue my own aspirations of playing college football. I had a lot of hope that I was going to be able to go and have a lot of success down there and when that was kind of just ripped away from me the first game,” said Richardson. “I was kind of stuck down there in a way, [. . .] it was just a long, lagging process that, over time, I had to deal with.
“But it wasn’t easy by any means. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through.”
Out of the hardships came an opportunity. SFU, which had courted him before he decided to go to junior college, was still interested, with head coach Kelly Bates making him the same offer before his injury.
In addition to the chance to play football again, being in southern BC also puts him close to home, only a few hours north of his hometown of Burien, 10 miles from Seattle. It doesn’t hurt that he gets to live in a world-class city that reminds him of home.
“I love Seattle. Growing up there, I feel like anytime I go anywhere else in the world I come back and look at Seattle and go, ‘How could you not want to live here, there’s water, there’s a beautiful city, there’s mountains, there’s green, it’s got everything.”
“You come up here, you look around, [and] it’s more of the same.
On the academic-side, he admits that SFU is the most challenging of the schools he’s attended. Studying a double-minor in business and communication, his goal is to do something entrepreneurial.
“My spouse says that I have a million ideas, [and] she just gets to listen to all of them,” he laughed.
But now, there’s a lot of work to be done on the football field. Six games into the season, the Clan has yet to get a win this season. Having medically redshirted in the year of his injury, it didn’t count against his eligibility, so Richardson still has two further years after this season that he could be with the team.
How the team grows and develops will depend greatly on how they handle adversity: whether they learn and grow from the losses, or let the losses crush them. Luckily, they have a quarterback who knows a thing or two about rising above adversity.
“It’s going to take a lot more than a few losses to get me in a place where I’m not willing to keep going,” says Richardson. “It all starts with me and I take a lot of ownership for why those scores are what they are and I won’t accept them, that’s just not something I’m going to allow. ”