Brandon McCormick Proving to Be ‘Genuine’ Leader for Crown College Storm
On Saturday afternoon, Crown College quarterback Brandon McCormick will be looking to lead his team to their third win of the season. It will even the team’s record at 3-3, and give Crown College a real shot at finishing the season above .500 for the first time since 2010. It also will continue the progression that has seen the Storm go from 0-10 in 2011 to 4-6 each of the last two seasons. The Storm are making some noise and their quarterback is helping to aid that resurgence.
The resurgence is not just a team one, but a personal one for Brandon as well. Coming out of high school in Peoria, IL, the senior chose to attend Marantha Baptist to play college football. He started every game there in his first two years on campus, but when the college was not sure whether football would remain a competitive sport at the school, McCormick opted to come to Crown to continue his academic and athletic career.
“I looked to Christian colleges that were affordable where all my credits would transfer, and I would get a chance to play football still. Crown met all my requirements, and I’m still on track to graduate in four years. So this has been a great experience.”
Brandon decided that if he was going to have the ultimate success with the Storm, it meant that he needed to get started at his new college as soon as possible. Opting to leave Maranatha in the middle of his sophomore year, the quarterback came to Crown in January of 2014 ready to get down to business.
“I transferred midterm because my whole thought process was that if I was going to come I wanted to be completely acclimated with those guys instead of just having three weeks to try to acclimate myself with them. I just wanted to dive in.”
That spring Brandon got well acclimated. He got to know his teammates well and participated in a mission trip to Mexico that gave him the opportunity to lead his team on the field for the first time.
“I had a great semester here with spring ball, then we when we went to Mexico on a mission trip. That’s where I really grew to know guys well. We had a game against a Mexican team, which was my first opportunity to play with them. So we kind of had a trial run, where we could all play together heading into the following year. That’s when we really grew as players and coaches the most.”
The Storm’s QB wanted his teammates to get to know him on a personal level so that they could see that the guy who would line up under center was a man who could lead them to greater heights on the gridiron. He also wanted them to see that the guy on the field was the same guy in the dorms, in the classroom, or walking across campus.
“When you are genuine with guys that really gives you the opportunity to get to know who they are, because they want to open up to you when they can sense the genuineness in you. That’s really important. I guess when you’re genuine guys accept you, and being genuine to who I am made guys really accept me for who I was.”
His dedication to the team was clearly visible, and the team responded to his genuineness and competitiveness. However, the change in results on the field for the team was not instantaneous. The Storm lost each of McCormick’s six starts last season before he was sidelined with an elbow injury. His play improved mightily after the first two weeks of the 2014 season, completing at least 50 percent of his passes in each of the next three games. The injury came in game six, ending his season.
This year Crown lost their first two games, which meant that the Brandon had a personal 16-game losing streak dating back to his time at Maranatha Baptist. The streak finally came to an end against Martin Luther when the senior had a huge day, going 10-13 for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns. The victory was an ironic one, as Martin Luther had been the school he had last beaten. He did not enjoy waiting nearly three years to gain a win, but the struggle did great things in molding the man who leads the Storm each Saturday.
“It was a relief, it was excitement. It was well worth the wait, because I think that allowed me to learn there is a lot more to life than football. When you figure that out you start to become more content with things.”
The senior has continued to progress as the season has gone along. After a tough loss to St. Scholastica, Brandon rebounded to help lead his team to 29-21 victory over Westminster. That victory included a 47-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Thomas on the second offensive play of the game. McCormick finished 9-20 in the game, but Crown College Coach John Auer acknowledged that his quarterback had made some great reads at the line that were keys to contest.
“Ya, he wasn’t as consistent as we would like (against Westminster), but he made several great reads that helped to take advantage of their defense and setup big plays in our run game,” the Coach explained. “He really has a great grasp of how to defeat what a defense is trying to do.”
Finding the intelligent and logical thing to do has always been a hallmark of what Brandon has done on the gridiron. He began playing football in the third grade, and instantly fell in love with the sport. Despite being one of the smaller guys on his high school football team (he admits he was just 5’5”, 115 his freshman year), he saw the sport as an opportunity to be able to compete like anyone else.
“It was nice to see an equal opportunity sport, and then when I saw in football that you get rewarded for hard work, I knew this was for me. You can work really hard in basketball, but there are only five guys that are going to get on the court. I think the hard work, the team work, and just something about the strategic aspect of the game just attracted me to it at a young age.”
Football gave Brandon his chance to compete, but it is his effort and commitment that has put him in a position to take the field as his team’s starting quarterback each weekend. To him his preparation for the season does not begin in August or even July. It is a year round thing that he knows is the only way that he can be a step ahead of the competition.
“I like to think that I hold myself to a high standard just in everything I do. Football is not an August to November sport. It’s year round, and everything you do you have to commit to it, starting in the off-season. It begins with your lifting program, your study of the game and ultimately when the season rolls around your prepared to put your best foot forward.”
He takes the role he is given on the field very seriously, including being a leader on the team. This is especially true since he is the Crown College quarterback.
“I like the leadership position. I’ve always felt I was a strong leader. As a Christian and as I’ve grown older, I realize that it’s a position where you can impact and influence others the most. You can turn people onto something that is really exciting. “
There is his real purpose in life. Brandon wants the opportunity to be a good football player and to help his team win. However, his commitment to God is by far more important to him. He is committed to serving God, especially on the field, and understands that serving goes way beyond talking about the Bible and encouraging someone when they are struggling.
“As a Christian leader it’s got to be service. What I mean is that you have to be sold out for guys to where you’re willing to help them with anything. If they need a ride to the gas station or help with anything you have to come through. If you put other guys ahead of yourself you win guys over. In service its relationships. It’s just being genuine; it’s just being who you are, because guys sniff that out in a heartbeat.”
That is the part that makes Brandon McCormick a very special young man. Many talk about their walk with Christ and give lip service to their need to be “better” at being a Christ Follower, but he longs to have an authentic and genuine relationship with God. The losing streak is a great example of his humility and commitment.
Most would be a bit irritated at suffering such a long personal losing streak, but Brandon saw it as a chance to grow, and that is what he did. There is real love by him for his teammates, his coaches, and his school as a whole, but it is his love for God that truly drives him.
“First and foremost I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I wanted to come to Crown because my commitment to Him is first in my life. I am very blessed to be around such a great group of guys who love God as I do. That is what it is really about.
For five more weekends the Crown College football faithful will get to enjoy the talents and skills of their senior quarterback. He may never lead them to victory again (although anyone would be foolish to think that he won’t), but he will be a young man that people can respect and know gave his all each and every week.
There is no façade to Brandon McCormick. This young man is the genuine article, who has come to Crown College looking to impact the school as well as be impacted by it. He has proven that when given the chance he can take a team and elevate its play. As a young man who wants to be a teacher, there is no doubt that he will do the same to elevate the knowledge of the next generation of students. Clearly the state of education is looking a lot brighter – at least in one classroom.
By Robert Pannier
Images Courtesy of Crown College