Defender leads on and off football field


Qing Huang / The Advocate

Defensive back Theodore Spann leads the team on the field, while maintaining a GPA above a 3.0.

By Jose Jimenez, Sports Editor

Moving thousands of miles from home can be tough and for Comet defensive back Theodore Spann, who left his family in New Jersey to enroll at Contra Costa College, this is partially true.

Spann is majoring in liberal arts and social sciences while maintaining a GPA above 3.0. He has received all-conference honorable mention honors while playing for the football program.

“When you are in a whole new place and living all by yourself it’s hard to get adjusted,” Spann said.
He said relocating to the West Coast was his best bet to succeed because the neighborhood he lived in in New Jersey was rough. But he admitted he never thought he would live so far away from his family.
Lichelee “Shelly” Spann works in New York and said that while growing up with her younger brother, she stressed that academics should always be a primary focus in his life.

“That was one of his pet peeves,” Shelly Spann said. “I would tell him that education is very important and playing football isn’t forever. (I told him) you have to build something to lean back on. So that made education very valuable to him at a young age.”

She said Spann has always had a love for football and hopes that he continues on the positive path he is paving at CCC.

“Keeping a high GPA started with my sister,” he said. “If I did not have good grades, she would not approve of me playing football. So to not disappoint her, I had to keep the grades up.

“I won’t lie. Me keeping up my good grades all started with my sister, and now, (I keep my grades up) with help from the (CCC) teachers,” he said.

CCC psychology professor Bernadine Luckey teaches a Child Development course that Spann is enrolled in.  Spann said Luckey is one of the individuals who helps him find balance between academics and football.

Spann said while he does take his academics seriously, his love for the sport is the major influence of his life choices.  

“Regardless of if I’m playing professionally, coaching or teaching, I would love to be involved with sports in some way — especially in football,” he said.

Luckey said people could use theory and real life experience to adapt to any situation, however it is up to the individual to realize when he or she can seize opportunities. And that’s a cognitive ability that she said Spann “has been able to do well.”

“I did not know he was born in New Jersey,” she said. “But I am pleased to know that he is excelling expeditiously with all his classes at CCC. And (I tell him) to remember there are many more positive and supportive environments still out there after CCC.”

Spann is now a starting defensive player for the Comet football team. He said he implements what he has learned from past teammates to influence and encourage out-of-state student athletes.
Former CCC defensive back Tyran Finley, who transferred to the University of Wyoming, helped polish Spann’s athleticism and introduced him to Comet football coach Alonzo Carter.  

Spann said Finley trained with him every morning in order to be in good physical condition and join the CCC football program.   
“(Finley) knew I was going to be better than half the guys ahead of me during (training) camp,” he said.
Football coach Alonzo Carter said, “(Spann) walked (into the football program) from New Jersey a shy, quiet and small little guy. To see him develop from a red-shirt freshman into a stout defensive back is truly remarkable.”

Carter said he is not surprised that Spann’s grades are at a high level because he treats his education with the same dedication he does when training.
“Spann hasn’t missed a workout in two years (barring injury),” he said. “I haven’t seen anyone better at the position. (Spann) is the best corner in the (Bay Valley Conference).”

With many teammates coming from Florida, Texas and New Jersey, Spann said, “I push everybody as hard as I can.”
He said that defensive back Greg Chuks, who is from Houston Texas, is somebody he has influenced with his knowledge and hunger for success on the football field and in the classroom.

“In the two years since I moved out here,” Chuks said, “I can honestly say I’m blessed and humbled that I can call this man family. He has helped me with my game tremendously.”

Chuks said Spann is always looking to improve himself and get more out of life. “I’m happy to play football with him, and hopefully, I will be fortunate enough to know this man for the rest of my life.”
Jamachel Torrez plays wide receiver for the Comets (currently 4-1 on the season), and is also from New Jersey. He said he was with the group Spann came with when they decided to pursue playing football out west from Lincoln High School in New Jersey.

Torrez said that Spann has always worked hard at becoming the best person he can possibly be, ever since they played together on a youth football team.

He said throughout Spann’s life he has faced adversity and beaten it. Torrez said when Spann was young, he was not the most athletic individual among his group of friends, but through perseverance and self-realization he developed into his athletic body.

He said, “Spann has always worked hard at everything he has ever set his mind to. Ever since we were both 8 years old, he always found a way to pick me up when I was feeling down.”
Carter said Spann is a crafty technician at his position and is one of the team leaders. He said Spann is the true captain for the football program.

“Some people are just gifted with the amazing talent they have,” Spann said. “I just have to work real hard for (success) but it can be done. I’ll always have faith in my team as a leader.”