At Tales From Sport, we believe in giving athletes the platform to tell their stories first-hand. Of course, fans of any sports will always have their own opinion on what a players greatest moment was, but does that player feel the same? Or is there another, more personal moment that stands above all others?
In this series, we will be asking professional athletes from various sports one simple question, What do you consider the greatest moment of your career?
In the eighth edition of this series, British American Football Defensive Back Chad Walrond joins us to share his answer.
‘My Greatest Moment in Sport’ by Chad Walrond
I’d have to say the greatest “moment” in my career can’t be singled down to a moment specifically, as I would say it’s happening this season. This is my first season abroad in a professional league, so I’d say the greatest moments are the ones I’m creating every game week as I’m developing and learning things every week that impact my game for the better. This is due to the elite competition that I face (the ex Division 1 athletes and the best European athletes in the sport).
What makes these moments so special to me is the rollercoaster that led to me getting this opportunity. Last year, I signed my first ever contract abroad for a GFL2 team, who were the only team even to offer me anything last year. However, because of the crazy 2020 we all experienced, the season was cancelled, and everything was shut.
At first, this really crushed me as it would be my first opportunity abroad, but then I realised I could either use this as fuel to get better and chase greater heights or allow myself to fade into the background. This impacted my training and, in the long term, really enlightened me about how much I wanted to chase this dream of mine.
I ended up getting offered an opportunity to play in the GFL1 by the Allgäu Comets, who took a big chance on me, and I truly believe they don’t regret it. I think that’s why this season will always be so significant to me, no matter the heights I reach in my career (God willing).
Chad Walrond Biography:
Chad Walrond is a British American Football Defensive Back who spent the last season playing for the Allgäu Comets in the German Football League (GFL1). His incredible performances earned him an invite to the NFL International Combine in 2021, being one of only 50 players selected worldwide to receive an invitation.
Motivation and hard work are two things that are expected from any athlete, no matter the sport. However, the best always go above and beyond what is expected, pushing themselves further than most people would think possible. Chad Walrond certainly falls into that category. According to many of the fellow athletes he has trained with, the defensive back is the hardest working player they have ever seen, whether that be in the weight room or on the field. But, it is not just the physical side of the game that the University of Hertfordshire Alumni pushes himself in. Walrond has an elite mentality when it comes to American Football. The GB Lion goes into every game with the mindset of “I have to be the reason (his team) wins the game, I have to be in control”, showcasing that he is not one to shy away from any responsibility on the field.
The British defensive star prides himself on being a quick learner and a teachable athlete, which has helped him become one of the most adaptable and dependable players in Europe. He also finds great enjoyment in watching his teammates develop around him, while using it as motivation to improve himself. All of this, combined with his outstanding play recognition skills, ability to adjust on the go and incredible leadership, have made him a true standout in the European game at a young age.
Walrond’s American football journey started at the University of Hertfordshire. His first interaction with the sport occurred during the third day of his first year at the university. The future GFL player was asked to attend a training session after a strange interaction at a Sports Fair. Someone came up to him and grabbed his arm to see if he had any muscle in it, leaving a bewildered Walrond confused before he was handed him a leaflet and told to come to training later that night.
The first year in the University Of Hertfordshire Hurricanes squad was a culture shock for Walrond. While the athlete had played team sports before, he had never been on one as large as an American Football team. However, he was able to adapt and thrive in the environment, forming an unbreakable bond with his fellow players. During Walrond’s debut year, the Hurricanes managed to reach the National Quarter-Finals, finishing with a 6-2 record.
In the Summer of 2018, Walrond joined the London Blitz, participating for their B team in the summer league. The London team’s campaign, unfortunately, came to an end in the National Semi-Finals. However, Walrond did not leave the season empty-handed, as he was voted the Blitz’s Special Teams MVP.
Walrond’s second season with the Hurricanes was hugely significant as it was his first as a Safety, the position he would truly shine in. The 2021 NFL International Combine invitee credits his then-Defensive Backs coach Matt Smith as the best coach he ever had. He claims that Smith had faith in him when others around him did not and taught him skills that he still uses to this day.
Despite suffering an injury that ended his campaign, the 2018-19 season was Walrond’s breakout year. He was named a team captain and led by example, earning the defensive MVP award in three of the six games he played for the Hurricanes that year. He was also selected for the 2019 University All-Stars as a team captain for his tremendous performances. Despite having a 3-4 record, Walrond’s Hurricanes still managed to earn a playoff spot and improved on their Quarter-Final finish from a year before. The Hertfordshire side defied the odds and reached the National Final, where they would heartbreakingly fall to the Leeds Beckett Carnegie.
In the summer of 2019, Warlond returned to play ‘Summer Ball’ with the London Blitz. However, this time, he would be competing with their A side. Despite being a rookie to the team, he was immediately named as a starter. The Blitz secured a playoff berth with an 8-2 record but would ultimately crash out at the Semi-Final stage, losing to their city rivals and BAFANL powerhouses London Warriors.
The 2019-2020 season may not have been as prosperous for the University of Hertfordshire Hurricanes, but Walrond was still thoroughly impressed. The Safety only allowed an impressive two receptions in eight games for the Canes. It was also during this campaign where the Hertfordshire captain would receive his first international call-up. He was selected to represent the Great Britain Lions Adult team and earned his first cap on 19th October 2019 during a 34-0 victory against Russia.
As Chad said in his section of this article, the 2020 Global Pandemic disrupted his plans, along with the rest of the world. After his time playing for the University of Hertfordshire Hurricanes had come to an end, the Defensive Back took to the website Europlayers in hopes of finding a team to play for overseas. An unnamed team in the GFL2 had agreed to take the Englishman on. However, the cancellation of the season meant that this fell through. Instead of just waiting for the pandemic to be over, Walrond continued to train. He found ways to work out even with all the gyms in the countries shut and continued to strive to be the best he possibly could be.
The dedication and effort Walrond put in during the pandemic would eventually pay off. The former London Blitz player was noticed by the GFL1 team Allgäu Comets and would be quickly offered the opportunity to play for the Bavarian team, who had fellow Brits and former Blitz players Glen Toonga and Jonell Pelie on their books already.
Walrond immediately established himself as the team’s starting Safety, primary kick and punt returner, and a key member on all Special Teams plays. In the eight games he played during the 2021 GFL1 season, the Defensive Back made a total of 21 tackles, 15 of which were solo tackles. He also forced a fumble, which occurred on his debut with the side, and broke up three passes. The Comets finished fourth in the GFL1 Gruppe Süd with a 12–8 record, qualifying as the fourth and final seed in the playoffs. Unfortunately for Walrond, his team would fall to the Gruppe Nord first-seed Dresden Monarchs in the Quarter-Finals.
On 21st September 2021, The NFL announced that Walrond would be one of up to 50 players worldwide to be invited to the NFL International Combine at Tottenham Stadium, London on 12th October. The combine is an opportunity for all those invited to showcase their abilities in front of NFL scouts. After it has concluded, a select number of players will have the chance to advance to train in the U.S. before potentially being allocated to NFL teams for the 2022 season.
An enormous thank you to Chad Walrond for contributing to this article. He has been genuinely fantastic to work with him and he has been a great guy to us. We really appreciate the effort he put into this and for supporting our site.