This week on the Heads 'N Tales podcast I traveled down to Princeton University to interview Chuck Dibilio. I asked my friend Cory Weissman (Episode 6) to join me for this interview because, like Chuck, he is also a stroke survivor. Chuck went from breaking Ivy League Rushing Records, to being told he could never play football again when he suffered a life-threatening stroke after his freshman season. Prior to the stroke, Chuck became first Princeton player to earn Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors since 1983 and was named to the first-team All-Ivy League after finishing second in the Ivy League in rushing with 1,068 yards (6th best in Princeton History). It was only a couple of months after this impressive season that Chuck suffered the stoke that changed his life forever. It was interesting to have both Cory and Chuck's perspectives in the interview because they were affected by the strokes oppositely. Cory was effected physically through paralysis and Chuck struggled cognitively, especially with speech and writing.
Chuck gave us some great advice on finding an identity after your sport is taken away from you whether it is one game, a season or a career. In this episode Chuck specifically talks about the devastation and anger he felt when the team doctor told him he could never play football again. Chuck doesn't know where he would be today if it weren't for the work he did with Sport Psychologist, Dr. Jarrod Spencer (soon to be on the podcast). You can subscribe to Jarrod's blog through the link in the prior sentence. Specifically, Chuck talks about "Following the energy" in transitioning to a life without football. This means that you should search for things in the world that give you that feeling in your gut that football, or whatever sport, gave you. For Chuck (and myself), CrossFit gave him that feeling back.
Below is a documentary on Chuck's transition to life after football:
Before Chuck went to Princeton he was a stand-out athlete at Nazareth High School. Chuck earned second-team all-state honors at running back and rushed for more than 2,000 yards as a senior. In that season, he averaged 9.2 yards per carry and scored 32 touchdowns. Chuck's career numbers at Nazareth were 4,902 all-purpose, 4,366 rushing yards and scored 57 career touchdowns. It should come as no surprise that these stats earned Chuck nine school records and nine conference records. As Cory alluded to in the interview, Chuck also lettered in basketball and scored 1,375 career points and earned first-team all-conference and all-area honors. Chuck also put's the "dumb jock" stereotype to rest because he was also a member of the National Honor Society. I'm pretty sure graduating with a degree from Princeton University speaks for itself.
Lastly, Chuck's senior highlight tape is featured below. His athleticism, determination and work ethic are obvious though-out the clip, however it is the run at 4:23 that impresses me most. On this play it looks to be about 1st & 10 from the +12. Chuck receives a pitch and proceeds to run-over two defenders on his way to scoring a touchdown. We talked about situations like this during the interview, when everyone in the stadium knows you are getting ball and you have to find a way to breakthrough the defense and persevere. You can't choose the obstacles that come into you life, but you have the power to decide if you are going run them over before they do it to you. As one of my high school coaches would always say "Throw the first punch" (meaning, don't wait for a kick in the ass).