Swayze Waters’ take on UAB situation
Jackson Prep grad Swayze Waters was recently named the most valuable special teams player in the Canadian Football League where he led the league in punting and kick scoring. He took up two places on the All-CFL team: punter and placekicker. Joy and pride over those accomplishments have been diminished by the recent news that UAB, his alma mater, is shutting down its football program. What follows are his thoughts on the matter.
In 2005 I joined the UAB family. I signed a letter of intent on National Signing Day and put on a UAB hat for the first time.
I showed up to training camp to our less than adequate facilities to find out that this game is about more than what you don’t have. I met some of the best men I’ve ever met through UAB football:
• Coaches who believed in me, that in turn made me believe in myself.
• Teammates that got up at 4 in the morning to run around until we threw up because we loved the game and we loved UAB. Strength training in a weight room that was barely fit for high schoolers, yet we still stood tall.
We didn’t make excuses. We took #1 ranked teams into the final minute against the University of Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in my first ever college game. Once again against Oklahoma and then again against FSU.
UAB gave me a chance to live out my dream. My teammates and I weren’t supposed to make it. We weren’t good enough for the “big schools.” Our facilities weren’t nice enough to make us competitive. But we competed with the best of them. The Alabama Board of Trustees did their best to keep us down then, but we didn’t make excuses. We kept fighting. Sure, we didn’t win all of our games. We only got 1 T-shirt and 1 pair of shorts a year. We didn’t have the nicest facilities. But it’s about more than all of that.
Some of my greatest memories are in the green and gold. I met my best friends and even my wife through UAB football. The band playing the fight song as our loyal fans cheered on from one side of historic Legion field.
Coach Brown’s pre-game talk before we took on the Marshall Thundering Herd, as he slammed the gold UAB helmet into a green Marshall helmet. Gold Paint was what I saw. A stripe of it over the green. I’ll never forget how the team broke out into a “Gold Paint” chant.
A lot of men have given all of themselves for this program over the years. We started from nothing and were given nothing. We fought our way to where this program is today. 6-6. Bowl eligible. A passionate coach. Average attendance of over 20,000. A city who is rallying behind the team. And now they say its over. But this is just the beginning. We have never been given a chance. We have never been provided with adequate means for success. We have never been given the respect we deserve. But we have never quit. And we will never quit fighting for what is right. That’s how it’s always been at UAB. Free UAB! Keep fighting Blazers! Gold Paint!”