Former Stanford outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi will be writing for SB Nation throughout the coming weeks about the long, strange, exhausting NFL draft process. He has a unique story of his own to tell that you can read through his conversation with SB Nation here. Kalambayi is in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine this week. He wrote the following just before he left.
I just got off the phone with my grandmother, Victoria, and she was telling me how proud she felt knowing that her grandson was selected to be a participant in the NFL Scouting Combine. In fact, that I’m even in this position is something nobody in my family could have ever predicted.
My mother, Liselle, was born in Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean nation that produces plenty of pro athletes, just not a lot of American football players. In Trinidad, football (soccer), track and field, cricket, and basketball are very popular, but American football is a foreign concept to most. Thirty years ago, she came to the United States for what was supposed to be a temporary move. My grandma had a job with the Trinidad embassy and she — along with my mom, grandpa, and uncle — relocated to the D.C. metropolitan area (AKA “The DMV”). After four years the family was supposed to go back home, but my grandma liked it here and she decided to get a permanent position with the World Bank in D.C.
Fast forward to present day San Ramon, California, and here I am. Right now, I’m living in a house with four other NFL draft hopefuls — Zaycoven Henderson from Texas A&M, Henry Mondeaux from Oregon, Jordan Veasy from Cal, and Andrew Caskin from William & Mary. We come from schools thousands of miles apart, we have no prior relationships with one another, yet we all share a common goal. We all want to fulfill that childhood dream of playing in the National Football League.
Every morning we meet up with 10 other guys on the same mission as us and we work to improve our performances on a set of speed and agility drills that will ultimately increase or decrease our value in the eyes of an NFL franchise. Our trainer, coach David Spitz at CalStrength, has been through this process with plenty of guys before. Kiko Alonzo, Zach Ertz, Austin Hooper, and many other pro ballers trusted Spitz during this pivotal training period. We’ve all been molded by our respective college weightlifting programs and it’s fascinating to see how coach works with our strengths and weaknesses. Some guys are strong and stiff while others are flexible and mobile. After a couple of weeks everybody is strong, flexible, mobile, and explosive.
Between training sessions, we exchange college stories and talk about the unknown future that awaits us. It’s both frightening and exciting not knowing where you are going to live in two months.
This training period is different from any I have ever taken part in. In high school, this part of the year was always basketball season. I played center and power forward every winter during my years at David W. Butler High school in Matthews, North Carolina. In college this time of the year was, and still is, a period of team building for the Stanford Cardinal. This training period involved long distance running and intense weightlifting. The winter was highlighted by the infamous “6 a.m.s” led by our entire gameday coaching staff. These were the hardest workouts of the year and the emphasis was always on competition. Guys would compete among their position group in a series of strength and agility drills, and coaches recorded the victor of every rep of every drill of the day.
This was the time of the year when you found out who was the toughest, most conditioned, and most disciplined. More importantly, this was when you found out who was liable to quit on the team during moments of fatigue and adversity on the field in the fall.
This winter is VASTLY different from any I have ever taken part in. My basketball coach isn’t yelling at us while we run suicides after a loss. My Stanford coaches aren’t making us bear crawl across a frozen turf field at six in the morning. The purpose of our running workouts is to get faster, not to get in shape. Coach Spitz doesn’t have to yell at anybody. Nobody needs an extra push during our lifts because at this point, every cheated rep hurts nobody but yourself.
We aren’t a team, but rather a group of individuals working towards bettering ourselves in hopes that our athletic traits stand out from the masses across the country who are chasing this same dream. We train everyday except Sunday, we eat only the meals provided by Spitz’ training facility, and we get more sleep than we ever did during our time as student-athletes. Massages, cryotherapy, compression therapy, and other recovery tools become commonplace as a part of our routines. I’ve been training for seven weeks now, but what I’ve done in training doesn’t matter unless I do it this week.
Its combine week. Time to shine.