Seton Hill grad following his dream of playing professional football
Although becoming a professional football player was always Sammy Tranks' dream, his path to getting there started as a nightmare.
In 2005, as a freshman at Edward Warders College in Jacksonville, Fla., Tranks was injured in the opening days of training camp when he was stabbed in his left hip by a blocking sled and needed emergency surgery to save his leg.
Football quickly became the career plan for Tranks, who grew up in Philadelphia watching his older brother, Tony, play for Temple.
“That's really one of the only dreams I've ever had, to be a professional football player,” Tranks said. “It's all I've ever worked for.”
After his injury, he transferred to Seton Hill and got his second chance. But coming to Seton Hill was a time of change.
“It was a culture shock my first year, but it helped me grow as a person tremendously,” Tranks said. “It was a great experience in the end.”
A large part of that was the mentorship of Tranks' wide receivers coach, Lawrence Hogg. He helped Tranks see his full potential as an athlete.
“You always hear ‘football is life,' and we always believe that,” Hogg said. “But ‘football is life' is more than just sports. I saw that he had more to offer than just his athletic ability.”
Hogg urged Tranks to pursue coaching after his time at Seton Hill.
“He cares about the kids and he cares about the fundamentals, you know, the pure stuff about the game,” Hogg said. “In my opinion, that's what makes the best coaches.”
Tranks recently started a Western Pennsylvania-based athletic coaching program called Courage to Continue Training. The name of the program is representative of the attitude and drive Tranks has shown throughout his football career.
“He has had that will to continue through every obstacle and disappointment, and I think it's fueling him to really be able to provide for his family and bring a better future,” Hogg said.
Even with the launch of his training program, Tranks has never given up on his first dream.
After being cut on the last day of camp by the Tulsa Talons of the Arena Football league, Tranks spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. He then signed with the Tampa Bay Storm of the AFL in September after being released by Toronto following their victory in the 100th Grey Cup.
“At this level, it's rare that guys get second opportunities,” Tranks said. “I've heard so many stories of guys getting released one time from the NFL and never stepping back on the field again. It takes courage to keep going and get that fire going.”
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.