Herkimer Alum Turns Professional Athlete
Herkimer Generals former track & field athlete Craig Peterson returns to his alma mater to pay it forward for current Herkimer College students to learn from his story. Craig Peterson ran for current track & field coach Sharon Howell. He placed second in the nation for the decathlon and was named a 2nd team All-American in 2006. After Herkimer, Peterson transferred to SUNY Cortland and earned his Bachelor’s degree. It was at SUNY Cortland that his love and motivation to play football was born. Peterson is currently a free agent in the Arena Football League after finishing this past season with the Tampa Bay Storm.
In Peterson’s speech to the students of Herkimer College he spoke of his trials and tribulations towards becoming a professional athlete. Peterson was a soccer player in high school. He had never run track before but when he came to Herkimer he was scooped up by Head Coach Sharon Howell. Howell noticed his great athleticism and grit, and coached him up to become 2nd in the nation for the decathlon and an All-American in 2006. Craig spoke about the valuable lessons he learned at Herkimer from Coach Howell and others in the athletic department about responsibility, punctuality, and respect; things he still draws from today in his career.
After Herkimer he transferred to SUNY Cortland where he tried out for another new sport, football. Unfortunately, even though he outperformed the SUNY Cortland recruits in most tests he was cut as a walk on. It was this failure that inspired Craig to become a great football kicker. He wanted to prove his worth to himself and anyone else who didn’t believe in him. Peterson used his story to teach and advise the Herkimer students about leading a successful path. How failure can be a powerful motivator and catalyst for strength.
Peterson also spoke of his first call to the big leagues to the Canadian football team the Ottowa Redblacks. He told the story of the injury he incurred two days before his first professional game which caused his dismissal from the team. He shared how this failure, even though it was one of the lowest points in his career, motivated him to prove his athletic value and earn a spot somewhere else. It was only three months later after physical therapy that he attended an open tryout and earned his spot on the Arena football team the Tampa Bay Storm. It was here that he built a reputation as one of the toughest and best special teams tacklers in the AFL.
One major aspect of Craig’s speech was the importance of exposure. He stated that being good isn’t good enough. One must be seen by those who are supposed to see it. Having positive exposure creates great opportunities. He credited his sports agent for creating great opportunities for him through exposure and effective communication skills. He emphasized that communication skills are imperative for everyone no matter what career path.
Craig revolved his speech around three major concepts; determination, dedication, and desire. He spoke about how one must first determine what it is they desire. Specifically find the thing that they love to do. Something that makes them want to be the best version of themselves; and dedicate most time and energy to that first. Put it first on the priority list and don’t let naysayers or failure pull away from it. Peterson quoted professional basketball player Blake Griffin who said, “You must fall in love with the process.” This is where Craig tied in desire. He advised the students of Herkimer to not only desire results, but to desire the grind, desire the process towards success.
Craig Peterson was a star kicker for the Tampa Bay Storm this past season and currently stands as a free agent working to earn another contract. You can follow former Herkimer Men’s track All-American and professional football player on Facebook at Craig Peterson, Twitter @c_peterson19, or Instagram @craig_peterson19.