Opening Doors: My last go-round
In his own words, Chris Blair '17 reflects on his journey to Elon, his transformative experience and the scholarship that made it possible.
In this essay, Chris Blair '17 shares his thoughts about what Elon has meant to him, both as a student and a member of the football team, and the importance of faith, family and the Elon community in his life. The Opening Doors series celebrates the power of scholarships to change the lives of Elon students and the generosity of donors who make this transformation possible.
By Chris Blair '17
Faith. That’s the one thing that has kept me grounded throughout my journey so far.
Yes, staying focused and working hard are major factors, but faith is what has brought everything together for me. If you asked me five years ago where I would end up playing collegiate football, I guarantee you Elon University would not have been in my top five.
Now, fast-forward to today, and you are looking at an Elon graduate with a degree in Business Management, returning for a fifth year of eligibility to play football and continue my academic career.
My journey to Elon came with highs and lows. I signed to play football at Ball State University in Indiana, thinking that school would be my home for the next four years. Little did I know that I would end up transferring to Elon the following semester.
When making a huge decision like that, it’s human nature to second-guess yourself. But as time passed, I knew that God wouldn't put me in a position where he knew I couldn't succeed.
Being a student-athlete at Elon University has provided me with amazing experiences, like studying abroad in Costa Rica and meeting phenomenal people. That trip alone made me change how I look at life. It’s not always about making the most money and materialistic things, although an Elon diploma puts you in the position to achieve those things, but to find something that you are passionate about and to love life to its fullest.
I am extremely blessed to have received a full scholarship to Elon University. It not only provided me with a free education, but allowed me to be able to pave the way for my younger brothers and cousins. Through the power of the Phoenix Club and a full-scholarship, they can now see firsthand what’s possible and what they can achieve.
I truly love the game of football not only because of the competitiveness, but because of the doors it has opened and the opportunities it has given me that I didn't think would be possible when I was younger.
Growing up in Winston-Salem, I had my fair share of trials and tribulations. I was never given things on a silver platter. My mother had me at the age of 16. Most people may look at that in a negative way, but both sides of my family believe that I came in this world at the right time.
At that time, my mother’s side of the family was still struggling with the fact that my uncle’s life was taken early due to gun violence. He was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. My father’s side of the family meanwhile was just informed that my father would have to serve out a 20-year sentence in prison. My family expresses to me that they needed me more than I needed them at the time. This is why I truly believe that my purpose on Earth is to help others in need.
In all honesty, football is bigger than me. It's bigger than putting on a jersey and having my name in the spotlight. I want to be able to show kids out there that it doesn't matter where you come from, and that your opportunities are limitless when you put God at your forefront and trust in him. Even when the odds are against you, you must keep moving forward and believing in yourself.
The football team at Elon is not just a team, but a brotherhood. These men are some of the most outstanding people that I’ve met. I know that whatever situation I’m in, they will have my back.
Additionally, my Omega Psi Phi brothers are some the strongest group of men I’ve seen. They have impacted my life in ways that can’t be explained in words. You also have those people that unexpectedly enter your life and help you grow into a better person.
My girlfriend has truly made me want to be the best version of myself. With her also being a student-athlete at Elon, we are able help each other stay motivated in and out of classroom. These relationships don’t just last in college; they are ones I will value forever.
My family has never fallen short in their love and support for me. They are constantly encouraging me and pushing me to be the man I am today. I truly cannot repay them for all that they have done, so every time a workout seems too hard or I am exhausted in the fourth quarter, they are what I think about to keep me going.
Elon is a very special place. I’ve built strong relationships with a variety of departments, and the staff here is like no other. It is an amazing feeling when you have professors that care about you as a person and not just as a student. When you can walk in the different dining facilities and have conversations with employees that treat you like family. When you have an academic support staff that are on you like parents, but want you to be successful, not just on the field but in life.
This is what makes Elon different. People here don’t just look at their career as a job, but as a chance to help students grow. This is why I am proud to say that I am part of the Elon University community.
As I approach my last college football season and my time here as a Phoenix comes to an end, I want to thank everyone who has impacted me and encouraged me these last four years. I am very appreciative of what I have gained being a part of this school and football program. I am very excited for this upcoming season and ready to leave it all on the field every game.
The Phoenix will rise once again!