SE: My Story: Stanton Weber

By Stanton Weber

Home is a relative term. 

Like your hotel room in a city far away from where you live. The hotel room is "home." It's where you can feel comfortable, where your family and those who matter most know to meet you when you've parted for one reason or another. I know where I live but that's not where I call home. I've always felt most at home on a cold metal bleacher overlooking a large turf plain, that's where I grew up, right there on Kimball Avenue.Section 14, Row 32, Seat 8: my address.

Every fall I would get to come home for a handful of Saturdays.

*****

Normal is a relative term.

Everyone’s normal is different. It is what the typical state or condition of their surroundings is. 

I was raised in Overland Park, in a suburban neighborhood. My childhood was good: great parents, loving siblings. I would wake up and on my way to breakfast, I would pass a handful of game balls presented to someone with a similar name to mine. On my way out the door, I would grab my book bag off a hook hanging next to a picture of my mom sitting on someone's shoulders holding a sign with a big "K" on it. I'd run out to the car and my dad would drive us to school, the whole way listening to recordings of his and Mitch's, Greg's or Wyatt's voices. 

It was our normal. 

*****

Expectations are relative things.

Like many people who have had the privilege to have a relationship with their dad know, dads have expectations for their children. Expectations in my house were always very high: school, sports, doing the right thing, excellence was the benchmark.Let me explain.

My father's name is Stan. He was first team all-state in three sports, became the quarterback at K-State, earned straight A's, married the cheerleader. I've never heard him curse. He doesn't drink alcohol. I was recently told by a friend's mom – who knew of him in college – that her sorority sisters commonly referred to him as "dreamy." He was the golden boy.

So excellence was the expectation.

My name is Stanton, the first born son of the golden boy. I earned an honorable mention selection from the Eastern Kansas League in two sports, lost a quarterback job, underperformed academically in high school and am very single (My Aunt Cynthia never lets me forget about that last one).
 
I am not my dad, and I am okay with that.

You see, my dad is my hero. The greatest man I know. I view him like every dad wants their son to see them: wise, loving, their best friend. Naturally, from the first day I can remember, I wanted to be "just like dad." 

It didn’t take long for me to realize what exactly that meant.

It's still a vivid memory. November 11, 2000, the No. 4-ranked, Eric Crouch-led Nebraska Cornhuskers were in town. I was seven – it was one of my first memories of K-State football. I sat next to my grandpa, and the Wildcats were down late in the fourth quarter.But on that night, it happened.Staring up at the black sky drowned out by the stadium lights, snowflakes sneaking into view as they drifted slowly onto everything in sight, Quincy Morgan drags across the middle on a shallow cross, and Jonathan Beasley flicks the slick ball to his left. Quincy catches, turns, hurdles a diving Cornhusker, and sneaks into the corner of the end zone. We took the lead. The rest is a blur: a fourth down jump ball, a deflection, no flag, snow angels. I was hooked."Grandpa, that's what I want to do." A dream was born.

A dream is a peculiar thing. 

It can't be forced upon someone. A true dream can't be faked. In its purist form, a dream is one of the most resilient things I've ever come to know. Occupying your thoughts at all hours of the day, requiring effort to focus on anything else. My dream evolved from a promise to myself that day in November to a decision I had to make every day. The decision was the most difficult I've ever faced.

Stanton, are you willing to give everything you have to live out your dream?

Was I willing to sacrifice the "college experience" that all my friends were so excited to begin? Was I willing to put all the hours in with nothing promised to come in return: no scholarship, no playing time, no glory? Better yet, did I have the guts to align myself on a parallel path as my dad? A path in which we would undoubtedly be compared to each other, and probably even more likely than that, one in which I would fail in comparison. 

I was.

The dream of playing football at K-State became my expectation for myself.

*****

Speed is relative.

My favorite story that my late Uncle June would tell is of my dad when he was no older than five. My Uncle June would say, “Hey Stan, why don’t you and Shirley race to that light pole at the end of the street. The first person to get back to me wins.” Shirley lived across the street. She was a five-year-old girl. Shirley won every one of those races. In Garden Plain, Kansas, on that dirt road, Shirley had some serious speed.

For college football standards, I had none.

I ran a 40-yard dash slower than most high school freshman when I arrived at K-State in 2011. I was also, "weak as tap water," according to one of my favorite assistant strength coaches. I had played about half a season of wide receiver at Bishop Miege High School due to losing the quarterback job, resulting in a position change, and a senior season shortened to five games because I contracted mononucleosis. To top off the resume that was clearly making every area rivals writer's mouth water: I was a towering 6-foot tall and a bruising 175 pounds.

I did have something that I soon found would be one of my greatest strengths. I'd been told I couldn't do something many, many times before.I spent kindergarten through eighth grade at a private grade school in Leawood that sits on top of a hill. I didn't have many friends there. I was excluded from their "elite" AAU basketball teams, their play-more-games-in-a-summer-than-major-leaguers baseball teams, and their too good for the private school league football team. I had one of their mothers tell me in eighth grade that going to my high school instead of her son’s would give me "a good opportunity to make the team." Not play, “make the team.” A chance to get a participation certificate at the end of the season.

I developed a stubborn skepticism for the word "never." That's when I met with a man who had a similar distaste for the word.

Hall of Fame Coach Bill Snyder sat across a desk from my father and me in an office overlooking Wagner Field in the old Vanier Football Complex in late May of 2011. I had a modest request, to receive the opportunity to walk on to his football team. On that day, one of the many instruments of Coach Snyder’s success was revealed to me. He didn't see a scrawny 17 year old sitting across from him. He saw the man I am today. He believed in me. I could see it in his eyes. The kind of look that makes you believe in yourself. 

I soon did.

The winter after my redshirt year, I walked into our first wide receiver meeting of the semester. After a long fall of scout team and development, it was finally time to get a chance to learn our offense and make strides toward getting on the field. My position coach walked in the meeting and the first thing he tells us is Coach Snyder says that we have too many receivers and we're going to have to cut a couple of you. "It's just part of the business," he said, "nothing personal." 

As he continued, I didn't hear another word. I surveyed the room, did the math in my head… Yeah, he's talking about me. 

That night when I went home, I couldn't sleep. Tirelessly, I wrestled with my thoughts. Nothing personal!? This was everything to me. The thought of calling my dad and telling him that I'd been cut was worse than anything I could imagine. 

You see, my dad is other things too. The man is dry, logical and very honest. These last three undoubtedly made their way into my DNA.

I was honest enough to assess the situation and see that the chances of me getting cut that spring were high. That I probably shouldn't be on the team in the first place was a fairly accurate statement. 

The negativity in my thoughts increased in volume. There's no way you're good enough, the only reason you're here is because your dad knew enough people in the program. You are a failure. 

YOU ARE A FAILURE! 

It took all the focus I had left to quiet my mind.

My dad gave me something else too, the most important gift you can give a son, faith in God. That night I leaned hard on that faith. I reasoned with myself:

God is perfect. God created me. Therefore, nothing about me is a mistake.

Trusting this logic is the very meaning of faith itself. Oh how difficult that is to do.

That night, I sat in a foxhole on the battlefield of my mind, peppered by thousands of negative, rational, thoughts, and I had the one thing that was going to get me out of there: faith. I prayed, "God, you made me, so I am good enough to do this. I'm going to give everything I have, every day, for you, and trust you'll do the rest." 

That night changed my entire life.

During the winter workouts that followed our receiver meeting, I ran myself until I got sick about twice a week. I wanted it more. People took notice. 

I wasn't cut. My faith in myself made me fast enough.

*****

Success is relative. 

Like the head football coach of an elite college program who is fired for only winning nine games a year. A standard of championships was set by the legends that came before him, anything less is considered a failure. For one program, these results are means for a coach loading his car and hitting the highway. For another program, that highway would be named after that coach. In our society, success is driven by comparison.

I have the chance now to finally take a step back and reflect on my career as a Kansas State football player. 

Was I successful?

It is the question that crosses my mind often.

If I apply society’s theory that success is measured through comparison, my most obvious yardstick to measure it would be my dad. 

My dad and I were both elected captains our senior year, we were both very good students, we both landed jobs with the same public accounting firm coming out of school. I walked on, he was recruited. I played on special teams, he was the quarterback. 

So, was I successful? According to society, no, I was less than par for the course. I failed to reach the level of achievement set before me.
 
Although, there is one thing that is not relative: K-State and Bill Snyder’s measure for success.

The 16 Goals are not relative. 

These goals can be applied every day I wake up, to whatever I am doing. Did I commit to being the best football player, student, brother, son, friend I could be today? Did I give the effort necessary to improve at each of these? Did I learn from the mistakes I made in the past and strive to not make them again? Did I refuse to limit myself? Can I answer ‘yes’ to these questions every day? 

Most days I could.

Kansas State University is not like the rest of society. The people here are different. They don’t measure your worth on how much money you have, how nice of a car you drive, or how many vacation homes you own. They aren’t impressed by smoke and mirrors. 

K-Staters value work ethic. They value good fathers and loving husbands. They value mothers who teach their children to have morals. They value those who are humble, generous and kind. That’s the K-State Family’s measure for success. That’s what matters. 

And I am so proud and thankful to have had the opportunity to grow up in this Family.

So, I ask myself again: Was I successful? I can’t get myself to come to a conclusive answer, but I strive to be every day.


We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh-Stewart or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.