Thursday, August 29, 2013

Veteran turned MTSU Raider Steven Rhodes: Husband and Full-time Dad before the Spotlight

After the world was introduced to Steven Rhodes by Adam Sparks of The Daily News Journal on Sunday, August 18, 2013, he became a media star within hours. Steven Rhodes went from a being a local story about a Marine hoping to play football at Middle Tennessee State University to THE news story on social media. Millions of tweets and Facebook comments were being posted by the hour it seemed. Social media went into overdrive and then every sports journalist, talk show host, and blogger stood in line ready to interview him. Within 24 hours, Steven Rhodes was no longer a college football player story that took over social media but an internationally Marine who everyone was cheering for around the world.

I was one of the those social media enthusiasts who retweeted and posted his story. Of course, Steven Rhodes being a Marine caught my attention first, but the more I read, the more intrigued I became about Steven Rhodes. Being in the company of Marines often, I know firsthand that most Marines have families with young children. (Just look at the Marines of KILO Company). I wanted to go behind the scenes to find out more.

After reading he had a wife who was still active duty, I called MTSU's media director, Jimmy Hart,  for an interview. The line was long and my number was 777. But I kept calling and Jimmy kept trying. With perseverance and an angel disguised as Aunt Angela, I move ahead of the pack and got an interview booked on for my radio show, Living Your Best Life Radio, that has a large military following. With many of members of our military in transition, I believed his story would encourage them in a variety of ways. Football seemed to be only part of the story.

Across multiple networks on Saturday, August 24, 2013, I was honored to interview not just Steven but his wife, Adrienne, and his mother, Narkita. The audience heard a soft spoken Steven share how he and his wife worked out a plan long from the spotlight about their post military careers for their family. Playing football was part of the goal but not THE goal. Enrolling in college with hopes of trying out for football were discussed with his wife over a year ago. After fire years in the military each and two sons ages, one and three, the young couple were looking forward to their future with solid plans.

Steven and Adrienne went deeper into their story by sharing their family's move to Tennessee was actually over a year in the making. If Steven desired to at least try out for a college team, he knew he had to be in physical shape to be considered. Joining an intramural team was for fun but also for filming footage for perspective coaches to view. He understood he needed to market himself and felt strongly he get could an opportunity to be a walk on. He knew he needed months to train, not a few weeks before football camp. Several colleges across the country were on his list. In the Middle Tennessee area, Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee were on the short list.

Adrienne shared it was a big decision for their family. But she believed in her husband and supported her husband's decision try out for football. The issues surrounding his ability to play were big but so were childcare, finding a home close to campus, and a job for her. Steven Rhodes was a husband and father first.

You could hear Adrienne's excitement and determination about the next chapter in her life as woman, wife, and mother. She will be leaving the Navy in September and finishing her degree this fall. The couple voiced how they made sacrifices to find the best fit for their family and MTSU was that best fit. MTSU supports veterans and everyone worked as a team to help Steven. Team work..



Like good team players, Steven and Adrienne relied on each other but were not shy about asking for help. Enter the grandparents. While Steven was transplanting his family to Tennessee in May, the grandparents on both sides stepped up to helped with the children. For two months this summer, Steven practiced during the day while being Mr. Mom with the boys. Is there a medal for that?

His mom, Narkita, joined our on air discussion and shared how she and her husband, Reginald, raised her sons in the church and she was not shy about being a disciplinarian. Steven laughed out loud as his mother shared his childhood antics that tested the family often. She told me later, she too, was not shy about asking family members to help with her sons. Both grandmothers have been rock solid throughout the transition and both knew that no matter what the outcome with football, their children were following their destiny in life.


The audience heard from Steven how a strong faith in God and loving supportive family kept him grounded before becoming a Marine. As a Marine, he is one of the few, the proud, the brave. His light was shining brightly before being dubbed a media darling. His humility was obvious on the air and when I met him in person. His wife understands his desire to excel in life because she believes in "Honor, Courage, Commitment.” Their family's story encouraged thousands who are in career transition throughout the military but also throughout communities around the country. They heard nothing happens over night. Nothing. And going after your dreams and desires in life truly takes planning. And sacrifice.





(I believe firmly that preparation for an opportunity sets you on the path for that opportunity to happen. Many may not see one prepping for it but when it happens you they are prepared. I thank everyone for helping make my interview with The Rhodes Family possible. I especially thank Adam Spark for tipping the world off to Steven Rhodes, Jimmy Hart, and Russell Luna. lastly, a big art lover thank you to the Aunt Angela!





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