“That’s love.”

2020 Gallatin graduate Tay Staten uttered those words when talking about Green Wave head coach Chad Watson and special teams coach Joshua Adkins. 

On October 3, Adkins, Staten and Watson packed up Watson’s vehicle. They made the 9 hour and 18-minute drive to Independence, Kansas, to drop off Staten at his new home, Independence Community College. 

“It was a really good trip,” Watson said. “Tay and I have always had an excellent relationship, and when I caught wind of him having transportation issues, we knew we had to help. Coach Adkins needed about two seconds to volunteer. That is what it’s all about.” 

Staten was told if he didn’t show up the following Monday (Oct. 5), he would be in jeopardy of losing his spot on the team. 

“There was no way I was going to let him miss this opportunity,” Watson said. “I had a similar experience where I was also out of football for a year working before I walked on at Austin Peay before earning a scholarship. It’s never too late.” 

The 600-mile drive for a player that is no longer part of your team is something not every coach would do, and it is something Watson and Adkins need to be commended for. It is without a doubt the most significant thing Watson and Adkins will ever do as coaches; it is bigger than any state championship victory, region title or undefeated season. 

“I can’t thank them enough for what they did for me,” Staten said. “I’m not even on the team anymore and they did that for me - that’s love. There is no other way to describe it. 

“I am blessed,” Staten continued. “I’ve never seen a coach that gives that kind of time and dedication to a player. I have so much love for them. I still can’t believe they did something like that for me. Without them or my family, I wouldn’t be here.”

How far would you go as a coach to ensure a better life for one of your players?

Every athlete deserves someone they can call “coach” for the rest of their lives. For Staten, Watson and Adkins will always hold that prestigious title.  

“Coach Watson was the coach we needed,” Staten said. “Coach Watson was the coach I needed. When he came in talking about GRIT, that put me on my mindset of doing whatever I need to do to get the job done.”

Staten has used that mindset to carry him to ICC. Following graduation in May, he wondered if he’d ever get his shot to play college football. Chances looked slim, but a text message in August changed his future. 

“I was on break at work, and I’m sending out my highlights and Head Coach Jason Martin text me and told me he wanted me on the team,” he recalled. “It was a dream come true; I never thought I would play again. I got down on myself and gave up on my dream, but I just remembered never to give up on my dreams of playing college football and trying to make it to the NFL one day.”

Staten says he planned on attending Vol State Community College, but the idea of staying in Gallatin never sat right with him. 

“I just didn’t want to stay in Gallatin,” he said. “Everyone wanted me to get out. I love my family and I didn’t want to move so far away, but the love and support I’ve gotten from my family has pushed me to chase my dreams.” 

Now that Staten is getting settled in his new home, he says time in the books, in the film room and the weight room are just a few adjustments to come back stronger than before. 

“Books come first and then football, but my dreams are bigger than Independence Community College,” he said. 

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