The last time I spoke with Chad Toocheck, he was coming off being profiled on the NFL Network’s Undrafted series. From being “this close” to realizing a dream of playing in the NFL and overcoming his own personal demons with drugs and alcohol, Toocheck was also dealing with being diagnosed with testicular cancer and coping with the passing of his mother, a special lady so important to his sobriety, that she continues to be the driven force behind his mission to become a better person.
I caught up with Toocheck recently, and with no surprise, he continues to changes lives and inspire others to be the best they can be.
The GM’s Perspective: Chad, it’s been approximately one year since we talked about your time on NFL Network’s Undrafted and your time in the Arena League. What’s been going on since?
Chad Toocheck: Less of me and more of others. I’ve really been trying to give back as much as possible. WIth the passing of my mom last year that really opened my eyes to what my purpose is. It really has nothing to do with me. I’ve always been driven to help kids, but now more than ever I know that’s my real focus in life.
GMs: I saw a fantastic news report on the work you on doing with youth and helping them achieve their football dreams. Can you elaborate and let our readers know how you got involved in that?
CT: Last year I volunteered at the local high school, the same high school I attended. This year a position opened up as an assistant coach and I jumped at the opportunity. Everything went well during the interview process and I ended up getting hired. I have more free time in my life now so that I can dedicate it to these kids. It’s been an honour and a privilege to coach those them and to mentor them. There’s a lot of kids that want to do great things with their lives and they want to achieve great things and whatever lessons I can teach them about the real world will be more important than anything I could teach them about football.
GMs: Being on Undrafted is a huge honor. Regardless of making the NFL or not, look how close you made it. Some people would look at that as a negative, but I’ll make an educated guess and say that the whole experience made you a stronger person, correct?
CT: Without a doubt. There’s no such thing as failure. It’s about what I’ve accomplished. There was a time I was beating myself up about getting so close and where did I go wrong? But, the plan the entire time was to be able to impact my community and impact people around me. That’s what I’ve been able to do.
I’ve used my story to push these kids to where they want to go. The most powerful thing I can tell them is to straighten up in high school (something I didn’t do). If they can buckle down, bust their butts, and focus on what they want to accomplish to become a better person they’ll be able to accomplish it. Where I fell short, they will succeed because they won’t be going into the NFL at 26/27 years old, they’ll be going in at 21/22 without any wreckage from the past to bring them down.
GMs: In your interview with Lauren Brill, you said “belief is hope” can you expand on that?
CT: It was spur of the moment. It’s funny because I got a bracelet now that says it. My attitude to what I can accomplish and what I can’t accomplish is right in that saying, “belief is hope”. If I believe I can do that, I’m hopeful for my future. Same with the kids. If they believe they can do it, in my eyes, they have hope for tomorrow. If you’re already defeated, there’s no chance tomorrow will be a success. Belief is hope pushes me and encourages me to be a better person. I still have a lot of growing to do and a lot of changes to make.
GMs: What’s your focus when coaching/teaching kids? Obviously football is the focal point, but what other lessons have you implement?
CT: I’m very open with them if they have any questions. I don’t hold back. Most high school kids these days are struggling with identity and being comfortable with themselves. They’re always striving to fit in and striving to make this person or that person like them or trying to fit in with a certain group. I lost myself doing that in high school. I lost who I was doing that. I’ve really just tried to encourage these kids to be themselves and be comfortable in their own skin
GMs: What’s next for Chad Toocheck?
CT: I’m just taking it one day at a time. With my mom passing, that really opened my eyes to many things. Life is a gift to be enjoyed, not a problem to be solved.
GMs: Chad, thanks again. You’re impacting more people than you think, I can guarantee you that.
CT: I appreciate that Devon. You keep doing what you’re doing.