TORRANCE, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Elijah Walker got connected to We Are G.A.M.E in 2016 when DJ Reed – the G.A.M.E. alumnus who is now a cornerback with the New York Jets – introduced him to Blaze Bhence while he was in college. He was then introduced to Joyce Thigpen, co-founder of the nonprofit. She helped Walker develop a class schedule to move him forward in both his academic and athletic careers. Before Joyce, he said, the trajectory of his education was leading nowhere.
“We Are G.A.M.E. has played a huge role in my life in general – in sports, academically, and in my life as a whole,” he said in a recent interview. From Joyce’s athletic guidance to Allen Thigpen’s ongoing support of this athletic career, Walker had a foundation from which to build. He reported that he doesn’t remember Allen missing a single practice of his. At the same time, Karen Rogers, another integral part of the G.A.M.E. team, came alongside Walker to offer guidance.
As a whole, the G.A.M.E. team helped him develop both his athletic and academic skill sets. Their support was important because his path forward wasn’t always straight.
While Walker started playing football around age eight, he didn’t play through a school program until his senior year of high school. Despite a limited high school athletic career, Walker was talented enough to join the team at Cerritos College. There, he says he met amazing people, particularly his football coaches: Coaches Caines, Mazzotta, and Grosfeld.
He played for the Falcons for two years, growing his skills after a commitment following his first year to become the best safety in the nation. “I went out and I worked for it along with the people who were put in my life to help me,” he says. His game transformed in his second year at Cerritos and he left that program having accomplished his goal: he was the #1 Junior College Safety recruit in the country.
That secured Walker a full-ride scholarship to Kansas State University, where he says he learned a lot of life lessons.
After college, Walker went to training camp for both the Seahawks and Redskins (now Commanders), but got signed by neither team. Despite receiving offers from the Canadian Football League (CFL), he declined them, holding firm in his belief that he would play professional football in the U.S. After two years of unpaid football in the Spring League, Walker found his spot on the U.S. Football League (USFL)’s Pittsburgh Maulers.
Meanwhile, the academic drive instilled in him through We Are G.A.M.E. held strong, and Walker is also pursuing a master’s degree at KSU.
About We Are G.A.M.E.:
We are G.A.M.E., Inc. is made up of a T.E.A.M. (Those Empowering Athletes by Mentoring) of community members strongly committed to empowering student-athletes with the tools and skills needed to successfully tackle the world of college athletics. The T.E.A.M. serves a population of students in need of support, advice, and, most of all, life guidance.
* By identifying student-athletes in the ninth grade or earlier, the nonprofit aims to positively influence their lives. The mentors at We Are G.A.M.E. want to see young athletes develop to their fullest athletic potential but ensure that the students also focus on education. The mentors work with students and their parents to create a game plan to pursue academic excellence as well as athletic success.
Learn more at https://www.wearegame.org/
DJ Reed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3Ulhpa7fsc
Learn More: https://www.wearegame.org/
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