NJ.com - The Rutgers walk-on special teamer, lined up on the left end of his team’s punt-block unit, beat his blocker as teammate Max Melton “parted the Red Sea” and got to Michigan punter Brad Robbins. The cornerback got every bit of the ball with his outstretched body and blocked the punt, leaving Ward in perfect position to scoop it up and take it to the end zone.Ward was soon swarmed by his teammates, the Scarlet Knights celebrating the play that brought them to a 7-7 tie with the No. 4 team in the country and made Ward’s long journey to this moment that much sweeter.
“It was a cool moment,” Ward said. “Honestly, everything kind of just went blank and I just trusted what all the coaches trained me to do. Scoop and score and obviously, that’s all I really had to do. Just pick the ball up, take a couple steps and celebrate with the boys.”
On the surface, Timmy Ward's touchdown was pretty insignificant. It tied the game at 7-7 but Rutgers would go on to lose big 52-17. It's when you examine everything Timmy Ward has been through to that point that you start to gain an appreciation for the toughness and commitment he has.
- In 2018, Ward was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. He had months of treatment, lost 30 pounds and during the really upsetting parts of the journey would watch game film from the year before to keep himself involved in the game. In 2019 he was declared cancer free.
- He repeated his Junior year and chose not to play in the fall after all he went through and prepare for his senior year.
- Senior year before his final scrimmage he tore his ACL.
- Ward still wanted to pursue a big time football opportunity, passing up D3 offers and decided to attend Rutgers as a student manager.
- While working with the team staff he got an opportunity to become a walk on. From there he worked his way onto special teams.
Coach Greg Schiano weighed in the impact a kid like Ward can have on the team after all he's been through.
NJ.com- “That’s really heartwarming, because he has been through a lot to even be playing college football, no less at a Big Ten program,” head coach Greg Schiano said following the game. “Timmy has become a guy on our special teams that he’s very calm and he makes some of our checks for us, which sounds like a little thing, but special teams, you don’t spend as much time as you do on offense and defense on special teams. So you need a guy or two who can keep things calm and make the decisions out there, and he’s growing into that, which is important for us.”
In Hardball one quote Keanu Reeves character says is " What I've learned from you is that really one of the most important things in life is showing up. I'm blown away by your ability to show up through everything that's gone on." It seems simple but it really does ring true. Showing up is difficult after adversity.
Timmy Ward didn't have to show up after his cancer diagnosis. He didn't have to work his way back onto the field and get in football shape. He didn't have to work harder after his injury. He didn't have to show up to early meetings and stay late as a student manager. He didn't have to show up everyday watching others play the game he loved with a small chance of him being able to make that team.
But he did all that, and sometimes when you just keep showing up, God throws you a break. The ball bounces in your favor, life works out in the way you wanted. Maybe the Jimmy V quote really is proof on how to attack the day, and your life. "Don't give up, don't ever give up."
Hats off to Timmy Ward, one tough dedicated son of a gun. With a great outlook on life and the game of football .
“It’s cool to feel trusted that they put me out on the field, having someone believe in me,” Ward said. “That’s awesome. Just go out there with those guys who have grinded all year, some veterans that have been here for years, it’s just been really cool.”
Some Things Are Bigger Than Sports .