Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life

Adversity is something each of us is challenged with daily, its how we handle the adversity we are faced with that truly makes us grow.

I’m Dylan Reda and this is my story. I am originally from Southern California, I attended San Clemente High School where I was an All-County and All-Conference linebacker. From there my journey took me to Ohio University, getting to campus there made me realize it wasn’t what I had hoped so I transferred back home to Santa Ana Junior College. I played 2 great seasons at SAC, and then was given a full ride to the University of Southern Mississippi.

My 2 seasons at Southern Miss are remembered as the worst football team in college football history. The team went from a 12-2 powerhouse to an 0-12 dumpster fire. Larry Fedora left the team to be taken over by Ellis Johnson, this altered the entire locker room dynamic. Being on winning teams your entire life to then be put on a team that loses every game, and not just losing but getting crushed, takes on toll on your mental and emotional strength. After Coach Johnson’s 1 season of butchering the team, he was fired and Coach Monken was brought on. This was the change the team needed even if our record didn’t show it.

Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life by Dylan Reda
Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life by Dylan Reda

This was my senior season so I wanted to make it the best season possible. I worked harder that off-season then I had ever worked before, I was determined to change the dynamic of the team again and I wanted to be apart of bringing tradition back to USM. I established myself as a leader in the weight room and on the field and felt great going into the season. Our first game was against Texas State, and we played them extremely tough only to lose in the last minute of the game. It was another tough blow to lose again, but the team felt different. You could feel the passion again in the stadium and the locker room.

Our next game was against Nebraska in their house, this was the beginning of my struggling senior season. I played 2 series and then was hit in the back of the head by our safety resulting in a concussion, We also lost the game. It was tough to be losing again, and now I would be sitting out for 2 games against Arkansas and Boise State. One of my best friends and fellow senior starting Linebacker Alan Howze took the reigns of the defense and absolutely balled out in both games. It wasn’t enough though and we suffered 2 losses there. Alan got turf toe in the Arkansas game just as I was coming back to play. Awful timing for the 2 starting senior linebackers, but I was back and ready to ball.

Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life by Dylan Reda
Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life by Dylan Reda

The next 3 games were the best games of my career at Southern Miss, we played East Carolina, North Texas and Florida International. I averaged 12 tackles in all 3 of those games, with a career high of 19 against North Texas and was finally feeling like I was hitting my stride. The fourth game in that stretch was against Marshal, and the 2nd series of that game I dislocated my collarbone. I was devastated, they told me I may not be able to finish the season. I wasn’t going to sit by and watch the rest of the season go so I rehabbed hard and was finally able to make it back for the final game of the season against UAB. We still had not won a game, but that game myself and 3 other seniors were elected team captains and we all told one another we were going to make this game count. We ended up winning the game 62-27 and I played well with 8 tackles and a sack. It was a bitter sweet ending to my collegiate career, we had finally gotten a much needed win in 2 seasons.

That season took a toll on me and I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to play football again, I trained and attended my pro day and did well, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore so I decided to work as a graduate assistant for the Strength Coach. It was a great year to train and learn more, but by the middle of that football season I was really getting the itch to play again so I began looking into playing football over seas. I had multiple teams reaching out to me from Germany to Italy to Denmark. For some reason Denmark seemed like an interesting place to me and I was leaning towards signing with the Triangle Razorbacks, but the night before I was going to sign I tore my ACL. This was such a blow to me and I didn’t think there was anyway that I would be able to play, season was 5 months away. Todd McCall the Athletic Trainer at Southern Miss told me if I really wanted to get after it he would do my rehab for me and get me ready to play in time, but I had to promise to do everything he instructed.

Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life by Dylan Reda
Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life by Dylan Reda

I didn’t hesitate and told him I was willing to do whatever needed to get healthy, I explained to TC the president of the Razorbacks what had happened and that I would still be ready to play and he graciously said he trusted me and still allowed me to sign. I had my surgery and that next morning I was in the Training room rehab! It was a grueling 4 months of baby steps, pain, gaining strength back and preparing myself to play. All the while this was going on I was diagnosed with a DVT which can be a potentially fatal blood clot in the lower leg. I was rehabbing 2 times a day 6 days a week and administering myself a shot of blood thinners 3 times a day for 6.

I was cleared to play the week before leaving for Denmark and was ecstatic, around this time I also met my future wife in Florida. I had my knee surgery on November 30th left for Denmark on March 23rd, our first game was April 14th. I got to Denmark and instantly fell in love with the people and the country, and then I attended our first practice and saw how much the Danes loved football. It was just what I needed to light that fire to ball out again! Great people, great atmosphere and a love for the game. The 2015 season was incredible, we went 12-0 and won the Mermaid bowl against the Gold Diggers!

Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life by Dylan Reda
Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life by Dylan Reda

I was asked to return the following year as soon as I got home, but I had just started dating my future wife. We talked things over and she agreed that she would love to move abroad and travel and watch me play! I also was able to recruit 2 of my best friends to play with me Ryan Berry and Duke Delancellotti. I have been best friends with Ryan since Junior College and Duke since sophomore year in High School so I knew the season would be fun!

We started that season great and in May of that year after a huge win against the Copenhagen Towers my wife Lauren and I got married in Vejle surrounded by my best friends, Danish family and wife’s family! It was the highlight of that year even though We had a great season, finishing with a record of 12-2, we played in the CEFL and lost to Poland’s Wroclaw Panthers but we were able to win the Mermaid Bowl again beating the Towers in a nail biter of a game. I was unfortunately unable to play in the final due to a concussion received in the semi but the boys pulled through in a huge win!

Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life by Dylan Reda
Adversity: The Battles of a Football Life by Dylan Reda

All the adversity that comes with this game is apart of a journey, everyone faces their own challenges whether it be a loss of a loved one, injuries, winless seasons, coming up in a bad area, not getting the break you feel you deserved. But God equips us daily to handle the adversity we are given, He never puts us in a situation we cannot handle. My journey of football has been filled with ups and downs but through it all it has strengthened my resolve, my work ethic and my grind. Everyone is in control of their situation and how they handle the adversity they are given will determine the person you become.

Thanks for reading my story and remember the GRIND NEVER STOPS

– Dylan Reda

Add Dylan on Instagram to follow his journey.

The Battered Bastards
Skip to toolbar