by Kimberly Wooten
October 15, 2009 – We all know that guy. You know the guy that knows anything and everything about the sport of football. They live, breathe and eat the sport. Ian Willis, Assistant Recruiting Coordinator and ULL student, is that guy. From playing on a small town 1A team to currently working with a college football team that is currently 1 and 0 in the Sun Belt conference, Ian looks back on his high school football career and reminisces on the past and how his journey and experience playing football led him to where he is today.
“I would have to say that my junior year playing football at Vermilion Catholic was probably the most influential year of my life in terms of becoming a more mature person and just learning a lot from the awesome people that I was surrounded by.”
“Football gave be a chance to escape from everyday life as a teenager. All the drama and stuff you go through, as a teenager seemed to just disappear once I stepped on that half dirt half grass field for practice. That feeling was elevated to extreme heights when it was Friday night and I stepped on to that game field. Stepping on that field every night from my freshman to senior year was like stepping in to the coliseum in Rome. Everyone was watching you, counting on you to represent their school. I get chills now, five years out of high school, just thinking about those games.”
“The people I was so fortunate to meet like Joe Simon, who was such a great player that would just run over you and not stop until 7 points were on the scoreboard. Coach Charlie Cryer who led the last team that anyone would have ever guessed to a state championship. We were the first team in our parish to ever even make it to the finals and we broke the attendance record. A school with 165 students emptied the largest, by land, parish in the state of Louisiana into the Superdome. I mean everyone knew everyone and just playing the game with the friends I’ve known since I was a little kid was a true blessing.”
“What really sealed the deal as far as knowing what I wanted to do with my life was after my senior season, right before I graduated, an 8th grader by the name of Adam Desormeaux, Michael’s younger cousin, came to me and asked if I could help him out with his game a little bit. He was a wide receiver for the Mt. Carmel team and was pretty good for his age. He saw me play during the championship season and my senior year and saw the success I had and I guess just wanted a few pointers. I helped him out for a few days and I can honestly say that it was better than playing. I was never the best player on the field. I never had size and speed but the fundamentals that I was taught by my receiver coach, Coach Scott Trahan, gave me a lot of success and after a few days of helping Adam out I felt as if I had given back and actually helped someone. It gave me a sense of worth that I had never felt before. Now I just want every young player at every level to experience what I was fortunate enough to have experienced at Vermilion Catholic, the camaraderie between teammates and reaching that ultimate goal of a championship. It’s never about winning but I would be lieing if I said I didn’t want to Adam to feel what we felt after we won that title. I want every player I come in contact with to learn the game and earn the benefits it can give them on and off the field. It can change your life for the better.”
“I started working for ULL in the fall of 2006. I have been given a great opportunity to help out some truly amazing people and I just enjoy what I do. I work for the recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Troy Wingerter. Working for him I manage a large database that helps us keep up with all of our prospective athletes as well as all the high schools we keep in contact with. I also make and distribute the offensive wristbands for the games as well as helping out the equipment managers from time to time. It’s honestly the best job in the world.”
Talking to an individual with so much love and passion for the game of football it’s best to know the whole story, his whole story. What started off as a fun game played as a child has brought Ian to where he wants to be in life, not only now, but for a long time to come.