Nick De La Luz | Special to Viewpoints
RCC’s football team is known for producing Division I athletes, and is consistently recognized for the success and accomplishments of its players.
However, what may not be fully recognized is the amount of hard work and dedication that is required of the players seeking to obtain scholarships.
Josh Long was a starting tight end for the Tigers during the 2011 and 2012 seasons and currently resides in the state of Hawaii. Long received a full scholarship to the University of Hawaii after the 2012 season with the Tigers.
Describing his situation as “a dream come true” considering all of the work he had put in to get it.
Long was a standout tight end coming out of Norco High School, whose talent attracted the attention of football programs around the country.
By the second half of his senior season, schools such as Fresno State and Utah State began to express interest in Long.
Fresno State reached out to Long and set up an official visit to the campus, which is usually when a scholarship is offered. When he felt like he had finally reached his goal of making it to the next level, a broken collarbone sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
All of a sudden the scouts that were once trying to convince him to go to their school were no longer interested.
His campus visit was canceled and the various schools lost contact with him. Just like that, he was back to square one.
After getting back to full health and training hard in the offseason Long enrolled at Riverside City College the following year to get back on the field.
“I knew they had a good program,” Long said. “I knew that if I worked hard and did my job someone would notice me.”
With this goal in mind, Long did exactly what he said he would do and he became a starter for the Tigers.
In his freshman season he was named to the all-conference second team while helping the Tigers get to 9-2 overall for the 2011 season.
In his sophomore year, the team had an undefeated 11-0 season on its way to a Golden State Bowl Championship.
“I spent a lot of my free time just trying to get better,” Long said.
Whether it meant early morning training before practice or long nights studying film of the opposing teams, Long did whatever he could to assure that he was successful every time he stepped on the field.
Long’s former teammate and roommate during his time spent at RCC, Ryan Thayer, expressed what a hard worker he was and how it affected him as well.
“The way he trained didn’t just make him a better player. It helped me get better too. I saw how hard he was working and it motivated me to work just as hard,” Thayer said.
The two were constantly in the gym and on the practice field before and after the team was required.
The focus and preparation paid off as Long had solidified himself as an impact player, and once again Division I programs took notice of his talent.
The moment Long’s goal had finally been reached came when he least expected it. The season had ended and Long could finally take some time to relax. As he was at a friend’s house one night playing video games he received an unexpected phone call.
“My phone rang and when I looked at it to see who was calling it said it was coming from a Hawaii area code. I figured it was a wrong number or something and I thought about just letting it ring, but something told me to pick up,” he said.
When he answered the call it happened to be Norm Chow, head coach of the University of Hawaii football team. Chow called to personally extend the offer of a scholarship.
“I was almost speechless when I realized what was actually happening,” he said. “I was in shock and I was so excited that I couldn’t even talk without stammering and stuttering. Coach had to tell me to calm down and take a deep breath,” Long said with a smile.
He committed to the University of Hawaii right then.
“Right away I knew that was where I wanted to play. I mean, I get to live in Hawaii to go to school and play football…it doesn’t get much better than that,” Long said.
After red shirting his first season in Hawaii, Long is eligible for two more seasons of play. As he prepares for the upcoming season Long is back at work.
“I’m excited to be here and to be able to play for such a great program,” he said.” I feel like I’m on vacation every day and I’m just thankful to be in the position I’m in.”
As the 2014 season draws near, he is ready to take the field in a Hawaii uniform.
Long said he is anxious for the season to start as he expects big things from both himself and his team this year.
With the path he has made for himself thus far, it seems obvious that he has what it takes to ensure that his success will continue.