Growing Up With The Proper Perspective
Oct. 11, 2000
Position: Running Back
Hometown: Ontario, CA
High School: Damien
Major: Political Science
'Football is great, but there's more to life than just playing football.' Stanford junior running back Brian Allen
Brian Allen seems to have the proper perspective on life. He understands how fortunate he is to be playing football at a place like Stanford, but he also understands how important the things are that have been brought him to this point in life.
'I'm blessed,' says Allen. 'I think any athlete in the nation and especially an athlete who goes to a place like Stanford is blessed because the group that comes here is just so select...just to get a scholarship to play football here...big-time Pac-10 football.'
After showing promise as a true freshman in 1998, Allen indeed began playing big-time Pac-10 football last season as a sophomore in the Cardinal's Rose Bowl campaign. He moved into the role as the team's starting halfback in the seventh game of the season and quickly emerged as the club's top rusher. Allen finished last season with a team-high 604 yards rushing on only 115 carries, an outstanding average of 5.3 yards per rush.
Allen started his junior campaign a bit slowly but had a big game at Notre Dame last Saturday with 94 yards rushing on only eight carries. He now ranks second on the team behind Kerry Carter this season with 223 yards rushing and has averaged a team-high 5.4 yards per carry. He gained 71 of his yards versus Notre Dame on a third quarter run that was the longest of the season by a Stanford player and the longest of his career. Allen has shown a knack for long runs throughout his Stanford career. Last year, all four of his rushing touchdowns were from 20 or more yards out. He also had a 68-yard run at USC and a 32-yard run at Washington as he became the first Stanford running back to rush for back-to-back 100-yard games since 1997.
'During his time at Stanford, Brian has matured a great deal and developed that hard-nosed attitude where he's more of a 'tough in the alley' type running back,' says Stanford offensive coordinator Bill Diedrick. 'He'll get after you pretty good. He's pretty physical.'
And now, for that perspective we were talking about.
'My parents and God,' answers Allen when asked who the most influential people in his life are.
Allen's mother and father were both sprinters and played lots of fï¿½tbol (also known as soccer to those of us raised in America) growing up in Jamaica. His father, Basil, had never even heard of American football before moving to Southern California shortly before Brian was born in 1980 (uhhh, yikes, in the UCLA Medical Center). Still, Allen credits his parents with 'giving me the whole inside on athletics and how sports helped change their lives.'
Allen's life off the field hasn't needed much adjustment, not since he learned an important lesson thanks to an incident early in his childhood. He was about six years old when he visited a local store with his mother and sister. Allen came out of the store with a present for himself - a toy that he did not pay for. When he showed his mother, Beverly, she immediately made him go back to the store, return the toy and apologize to the manager. The youngster thought that would be the end of his punishment until Beverly told Brian's father about the incident.
'Since then, I haven't taken anything,' emphasizes Allen. 'The loving and caring type of discipline I have received from my family has helped me throughout my life.'
Allen's life does indeed seem to be in perspective.
He mixes his spiritual and religious feelings well with his football exploits.
'My relationship with God gives me strength when I know that maybe I didn't play the greatest game or had some kind of other failure,' says Allen. 'It gives me someone to pray to, to lean on. Being able to do that is very important to me. Before I was a Christian, I used to always be very hard on myself, and I felt really alone.'
Allen no longer feels quite as alone after a bad game and has learned to deal with some of these issues partially though a group called 'Life in the Pac-10'. The group is made up of Stanford student-athletes from various sports that come together and discuss a wide variety of issues.
'The group just talks about how different athletes deal with different pressures on campus,' informs Allen. 'It could be about issues ranging anywhere from alcohol to relationships, and we try to put a Christian light on it. It's basically a forum to express ourselves and share different stories. I'm just a member of the group now, but I hope to be a leader later on.'
Allen credits his way of living to good old-fashion growing up and taking charge of his life.
|Stanford's starting halfback...Led the Cardinal in rushing in 1999 with 604 yards on 115 carries (5.3 yards per carry)...Has totaled 981 career rushing yards and needs just 19 yards at Oregon State this Saturday to earn a spot among Stanford's career 1000-yard rushers...Rushed for back-to-back 100-yard games at USC (10/23/99) and Washington (10/30/99) last season, becoming the first Stanford player to accomplish the feat since 1997...Has a knack for long runs, including a career-high 71 yard-run at Notre Dame (10/7/00) and a 68-yard run at USC (10/23/99)...Ranks second on the club this season with 223 rushing yards and leads the team with an average of 5.4 yards per carry.|
'It's on you,' says Allen, referring to the way he choose to live his life. 'That's one of the big things about going to college. It is a way of growing up. Your parents aren't going to drive you to church or make you pray, or do much else. That's all on you.'
'That's life,' Allen continues. 'It's the real world. If you're always sheltered, then when you go out into the professional world, you're going to be at a disadvantage. By learning to do stuff for yourself - being disciplined, being spiritual - I think it helps you survive. It helps you make it in life.'
Allen believes in not only helping himself, but also helping others in life. He distinctly remembers a trip he took to a children's hospital with other Stanford football players during the spring of his freshman year.
'You just think how blessed you are and how strong these children are because they're fighting for their life, whereas, I'm just worried about a final or a midterm that's due,' remembers Allen about his feelings after his visit. 'It puts life into perspective and brings you back to earth. I'll never forget how happy the kids were and how their eyes lit up when we signed the posters for them and talked with them. Their parents were just so happy also. That's another thing I like about playing football, that you have a chance to give back to the community in some way or form.'
'You always have to give back and try to help out other people that are less fortunate than yourself,' continues Allen. 'I believe that Stanford is graduating leaders in society. It's one of my goals to be a leader in society, to give back and to do charity work.'
Still, Allen seems to have a firm grasp on realism.
'I do like money, but I don't love money,' says Allen. 'You can't love money. Money is a good thing but you have to have perspective. You can't just think that your goal in life is to make a lot of money. You have to say, 'if I make a lot of money, then how can I help out this person or this community'.'
by Kyle McRae