Theo Goins: "Football Saved My Life"

GO KNIGHTS Theo Goins is a senior leader for the Knights.
Theo Goins is a senior leader for the Knights.

Nov. 12, 2012

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By Brandon Naidus

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - For Theo Goins, football was the only way out. The sport provided a glimmer of hope for Goins and ultimately paved the way for him to go to college. The offensive lineman was the first member of his family to attend college and he has the most of his opportunity at UCF.

As a youngster in Houston, Goins witnessed a countless number of classmates and friends make difficult choices. Some dropped out of high school. Others sold drugs and ended up in jail. And others fared worse and lost their lives. Football kept Goins off the streets and out of trouble, and he excelled on the field, eventually earning a scholarship to attend UCF.

Because no member of Goins' family had attended a university, he did not know what to expect as a freshman, and making the adjustment to the lifestyle of a student-athlete at a four-year institution was challenging. He utilized his resources at UCF. Academic advisors and the UCF football coaching staff helped to make the transition easier for him.

"It was tough at first, but over time, I got the hang of it. It became a little easier every year," Goins said.

He was able to handle the responsibility and make the most of his opportunity at UCF. Goins made strides in the classroom and this past spring, he went from the first member of his family to attend college to the first member of his family to graduate from college when he earned his degree in interpersonal/organizational communication.

"The first way I tried to take advantage of my scholarship was to get my degree. Coach (George O'Leary) did not promise us that we would play, but what he did promise us was that he would try to get us a degree. Not for just me, but for my whole family that was a huge achievement. Having a degree in communications really means a lot to me and to my family, especially my parents," Goins said.

The 6-foot-4 Goins feels that a degree in communications was the right choice. He has taken the material he learned in his classes and used it to interact with others. The courses also helped him with his leadership role on the team.

"I took a lot of classes that were based on different types of communication, things like teamwork communications and leadership communications. You learn different things about how people respond to different things. It helps you adjust on how to talk to different people," he said.

Thanks to football, he now has a college degree, which is an advantage he will have when his playing days are over.

"Having a college degree means so much in this day and age. I pay attention to what is going on around me. I see the how the economy is. The higher your education is, the better chance you have of living better in America," he said.

UCF student-athletes like Goins often get the opportunity to spend time in the community. Goins enjoys volunteering with youth and teaching them the game that has changed his life.

"Teaching them a little bit about football and just seeing the smiles on their faces is really rewarding," he said.

Goins knows that football has given him a tremendous opportunity and by taking advantage of it, the sport has had an immeasurable impact on his life.

"I owe it all to football. That is why I paid it back in the classroom. Football saved my life."

This story appears in the September issue of Knights Insider magazine. The publication, which is published six times per year, provides an inside look at UCF student-athletes, coaches and alums. To order the magazine, click here.