Firefighter Danny Watkins

Approximately 70% of firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers, so this frequently means our neighbors are sacrificing to protect our lives and property. In my estimation, this makes firefighters an exceptional breed. Take Danny Watkins for instance. When he graduated at eighteen from his Canadian high school, he chose, as many do, to take some “time off.” This didn’t mean traveling, or working a mindless job while he tried to find himself. For Danny, it meant spending the next four years fighting fires full-time. It was after this, when he decided to pursue his education in fire science, that he was discovered, so to speak, by a college football coach, eventually going on to play football at Baylor University under coach Art Briles. Now, at the age of 26, he is a potential first round draft pick for the NFL.

His choice to be a firefighter essentially delayed his football career and makes him the “old man” on the field. Is this choice positive in his life, or negative?

“It’s absolutely a positive,” Briles says with conviction. “We were fascinated by it when he first got to Baylor. He spent offseasons fighting fires back home, and on Sunday nights after Saturday games, he’d be at the local firehouse here in Waco (Texas). What we quickly came to discover was that the very same skills that made him a fantastic firefighter make him a tremendous offensive lineman. He has a calmness and confidence under duress that you just don’t see every day. He’s always in control. He’s always cool under pressure. He’s accountable, obviously, too.”

Calmness, confidence, control, accountability – these are the traits of a mature man. Danny chose to delay exploring his athletic giftedness in order to discover his true character, and he did this through firefighting. He gave to others first. How many people actually do that? I’m not really a sports fan, but I’m definitely a fan of firefighter Danny Watkins.

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