Self-driven Henry County student alumnus draws up winning play to reach goals, serve as role model –
A paltry 0.08 percent. That’s it. Two spots behind a decimal point percentage worth is what kids donning the football pads each time late in summer have by way of a chance to make it to the National Football League. Most people have a better chance of hearing “Come on down” on the Price is Right than football players do of hearing their name called by the commissioner of the NFL.
But what if you were one of the select few who did get your name called because one of 32 professional teams in America’s richest sport chose you? One such person to look to would be a local role model by the name of Tre McBride. Or better yet, how about you hear it from the people who saw him work hard every day to make his chances of being in that small percentage increase exponentially.
According to his family, Douglas McArthur McBride III was born with a football and basketball in his hands. With a name more suited to lead troops into combat, the name Tre would soon resonate as the name of a team leader on the battlefield known as the football gridiron. Leadership is earned by proving your mettle, and Tre did everything he could to make it hard for people not to follow him along his journey to becoming a standout athlete and all-around good person.
Parents are generally able to recognize unique characteristics and abilities exhibited by their child through the activities in which they participate. On the sports field, these abilities manifest themselves in skills required to compete. Speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, and more…provide ample opportunities to measure the aptitude of an athlete. Tre McBride had the solid foundation to become a great athlete, but as anyone will tell you, it takes more than raw skill to be a great athlete. It takes a strong will, determination, and support to be included in the miniscule 0.08 percent.
“Early” Playing Time
Born in Texas, this was the first of many stops growing up in a military family. His first introduction to the game of football came while his father was stationed in Newport, Rhode Island. However, it was on the soccer field where his father first noticed an advanced hand-eye coordination for a young kid. “When I saw what he was doing on the field at such a young age, I knew there was an athletic gift Tre possessed,” says his father, Colonel Douglas McBride Jr.
A standout athlete himself, Col. McBride wanted to see what other sports Tre might be able to participate in and flag football was next on the list. Parents in the league quickly let the elder McBride know just what a talent his young son was at an early age. It meant a lot to have others take notice, but the McBride family is not one to rest solely on the comments of others and call things a success. Tre had it instilled in him early on that you have to work for what you get, and you can reach your goals if you want it bad enough.
The next move for the family took them to Hawaii, the Aloha State, at which point Tre said hello to his first contact football league. The Waipio Panthers utilized the talents of Tre by playing him at running back. His elusiveness on the field quickly made him one of the better players in the league. Ironic enough, Heisman Trophy winner and Tre’s future teammate, Marcus Mariota, played in the same league.
Tre was a natural. His quickness uncommon. Coaches will often tell you when discussing the attributes of a player, you can’t coach raw speed. Tre’s Pop Warner Football Coach, Jonathan Woodruff, said Tre had speed to burn even at such a young age. “One of the fastest kids I have ever been around, let alone had the opportunity to coach,” said Woodruff. “Just an all-around good kid.”
Tre thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in sports. It was not pushed on him, and many options were given to the youngster to explore whatever he ultimately liked. “He always wanted to play sports and practice to get better at them,” shares Col. McBride.
All the Right Moves
When orders were given to head back stateside, the McBride family landed in Henry County in the town of McDonough.
Col. McBride’s relocation brought his family into town a bit past the deadline to register for the local football league, but a call to one of the coaches and an explanation of their situation allowed Tre to jump on board with the Locust Grove Falcons. Tre was quick to make an impression with his natural ability, and he found himself playing multiple positions on both sides of the ball.
It wasn’t long before this young athlete was set to go out for varsity football at the then newly-founded Ola High School. Football programs in the high school ranks usually take some time to build a solid culture of winning. Teams usually amount to a split squad from a nearby high school after the wake left from a system’s redistricting. That was no different for the Ola program. Wins were hard to come by, but the support and spirit remained strong with the program and Tre got his chance to be a contributor early and often from all over the field. His determination and work ethic made him an instant leader.
“Tre was the type of kid that didn’t back down from a challenge,” said his high school coach John Kovzel. “It was almost as if he relished the opportunity to prove he could take the hardest challenge and make it look easy. He was always the first one to practice or [weight] lifting and the last one to leave.”
The description shared by Kovzel is a small sample of the work ethic and determination that brought accolade after accolade for Tre, and eventually the opportunity to play college football.
By all accounts, Tre was on the right path to play collegiate football. He had the athletic ability and a solid academic base. The only question was where would he end up going? Numerous schools took note of the well-rounded student athlete: Duke, Northwestern, the University of Virginia, just to name a few. His first scholarship offer was from Duke and Coach David Cutcliffe. Unfortunately, the early stages of the recruiting process is where Tre endured one of the biggest disappointments of his young athletic career. The Blue Devils extended a scholarship to Tre and wanted him to commit to their program, but Tre wasn’t ready just yet. He wanted to tour other schools to make sure he had all his options available before giving his word to a school. When he decided that Duke was where he wanted to go, he called the school only to find out that the offer was no longer there and someone else had taken that scholarship instead.
Devastated, Tre found himself at a low point. However, his family and coaches didn’t let that unfortunate side of the college recruiting world keep him down for long. Soon there were other suitors for his services. He drew the attention of college programs of all sizes with his athletic performances at various showcases, but a lesser known school let it be known they wanted him for their team and they could help him achieve his goals and get a quality education.
The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia was where Tre would spend the next four years continuing to display his many talents while readying himself for his dream job – a player in the National Football League. The percentage of athletes getting the chance in the professional ranks after college is small. It is even smaller when you come from a smaller school such as William & Mary. As shared by his former high school coach, Tre has a knack for using the idea of impossible for motivation to prove things are possible.
Chris Strayhand, Tre’s former trainer and trainer of many area athletes of all ages, noted that the local standout had a confidence about him, something that can serve an athlete well when it comes to reaching for goals. “Tre’s desire to be the best, set him apart,” said Strayhand. “He wanted to play professionally and he was going to work as hard as possible to achieve that goal.”
With a college career now complete, Tre could focus on his goal 100 percent. His first big break came when he received an invitation to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. A select few are invited to this showcase of the best college football players in the country. Tre was one of them. This wide receiver blew people away with his talent and abilities, and a buzz was growing around this dynamic player from the small college in Virginia. Articles were being written, projections of where he would go in the draft were being shared, and the future was growing brighter for Tre.
Part of the Combine includes many opportunities for players to meet for intense discussions with potential employers – NFL team executives. They are known to bring up anything and everything. Probably things you didn’t even know about yourself. One thing sure to come up was Tre’s musical talents. You don’t often hear of exceptionally gifted athletes being exceptionally gifted musicians, but Tre is one of them and he didn’t hide his talent from anyone at any point in time.
Tre was a first-chair trumpet player in his high school’s accomplished Wind Symphony. According to the band director Todd Manson, his talent on the football field didn’t interfere with his ability to find his place in the band program. He saw the opportunity to participate in both as a way to be more involved in the Ola community, and people took notice.
“It was evident Tre had a great work ethic, and more importantly, he had a tenacity about him,” said Mason. “He wanted to do well in everything he did, and obstacles were opportunities for growth. Tre was unique in that, while many students see conflict or tension between band and football, he appreciated both. He didn’t denigrate football or band kids, but appreciated the talents those activities require. He saw both activities as part of the Ola community, and he showed respect for his community by giving his best to those activities. I considered that a sign of maturity, and I really respected him for that.”
So as the saying goes, everything happens for a reason, and it should come as no surprise that this motivated, self-driven-in-every-activity young man would hear the sweet music of his name being called in the 2015 NFL Draft by the team from the Music City, the Tennessee Titans.
In the music world, songs are usually written from experience, trials and tribulations, and all that comes to an individual through trying to find one’s way. The deeper the experience, the more impactful and resonating the song. With all that Tre has experienced and put forth to reach his goal of making it to the NFL, his song will be a #1 hit….and he should have no shortage of fans and youngsters who look to him as a role model.
By JD Hardin