A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Small running back dreams big

SRJC Athletics
Ja’narrick James breaks free on a run.

With a fractured knee, adrenaline was the only thing that kept Ja’Narrick James going. It was the fourth quarter and his team was losing. Barely able to walk, let alone run, James went back in.

He was nine years old at the time.

Starting at the age of eight, Santa Rosa Junior College’s star running back James has been playing football for the past 11 years. He began his football career playing for the West County Tigers in a Pop Warner League, before moving on to the Analy Tigers during high school. Now James stars as the focal point of the Bear Cubs offensive attack, his 5-foot-6, 155 lb. figure averaging 62 yards per game.

In other words, he’s fast.

His determination, however, has been a key part of his overall success on the field and in all walks of life.

“Motivation and determination. That’s all it is right there. I’m just determined not to be stopped. There’s no questioning whether I’m gonna come back into the game if physically possible,” James said.

James displayed the same determination during a high school football game in 2013 in which he experienced severe muscle cramping on both legs.

“Once the game starts for me in football, I don’t see or hear anything but what’s on the field. The only thing that really kept me going was not wanting to let my teammates down.”

Being raised in the South with a competitive family that taught him to never give up while always remaining polite and positive, shaped James to be who is today. Those young-taught qualities were reinforced in James when his father was diagnosed with cancer in early 2015.

“When things got as tough as it did in certain situations, he never gave up. Never showed any type of weakness. He always kept a smile on his face and was always positive,” James said about his father. “If you ask any of my teammates, no matter what the situation in the game is, I’m always positive. That’s something that I really got from my dad’s fight was not giving up and knowing there’s always some way to get over every obstacle. It’s really showed me that there’s obstacles that you’re going to have to climb through. You just gotta keep fighting, keep looking forward.”

While James believes that he’s been primarily shaped as a man and a football player by his family, there have been numerous other people that have helped guide him in his evolution as a football player. He cites Analy High School head football coach Daniel Bourdon, and Analy teammate Kerr Johnson Jr. as important figures pushing him to be the best he can possibly be.

James may be small in size, but his statistics and successful track record enable him to dream big.

“I hope by the time I’m 35, I can be retired and hopefully have played in the NFL. Possibly be in the NFL Hall of Fame. That’s any football players dream right there,” James said. “That’s where I hope to see myself. That’s where I do see myself, ‘cause I’m always positive. That’s where I will be one day.”

James says he owes a lot of his motivation to keep going and pursuing his football career from his family.

“I just have so many key elements, so many key people for certain things. They all kind of work together to keep pushing me, keep motivating me. It’s mostly my family. I’ve had plenty of cousins that went on to play Division One football and Division One basketball and just a bunch of family that’s done what you can possibly think of professionally as athletes,” James said. “It’s really kind of showed me it’s possible to make it professional and it’s always been a goal of mine. That’s my motivation. Looking at my family and saying, ‘oh I can do it because they did it.’”

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About the Contributor
Parker Dangers Oncken
Parker Dangers Oncken, Sports Editor

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