One Field to Another
By BJ Bennett
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Currently, Cody Queen's resume comes on a mounting bar, with his work experience stretching wide into the sky every every time the wind gusts.
The recent Explosive Southern Pigskin Football Camp in Pooler tested participants for a wide variety of abilities; traits like strength and speed, footwork and fundamentals and passion and persistence were all identified. Even at a combine based in measurables, one's resolve can still stand out above all else. Cody Queen volunteered at Saturday's event and did so with a drive that has taken him halfway around the world; Queen's heart can, quite literally, be worn on his sleeve.
Previously a soldier in the United States Army from 2007-2014, SSG Queen may be easing into a second-career by interning in the field of sports media. A medical discharge ended his military stint, as Queen suffered from, among other adversities, five brain injuries after tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Queen worked in "route clearance", identifying and removing improvised-explosive-devices and mines. Directly handling deadly threats was part of his daily routine.
"It was a thrill," Queen nodded.
A Melbourne, Florida-native, Queen played high school football as a running back who was once clocked in the 4.6 range in the forty yard dash. Ultimately life took him in a different direction. Joining the Army, for Queen, was a kindred tradition.
"My family was always in the military," he explained, "like in Forrest Gump."
Less than two years into his service, Queen, an engineer, was overseas learning how to handle IEDs. Helping to provide safe passage for his peers was Queen's remarkable responsibility. The smallest details could make the biggest difference in his line of work. Queen was, by design, in situations that others needed to avoid. Consequences had the potential to be quite significant.
The blow of multiple explosions were absolutely debilitating to Queen's body and mind. Of the multiple brain injuries he suffered, one forced him into a coma for a full month. Blasts wounded Queen a number of different ways, including, additionally and unfathomably, breaking his back.
"When I got home, I found out it was broken in three places," he explained. "When I gained weight, I started to have compression on my nerves and lose the feeling in my legs and one morning I couldn't walk."
Assisting coaches in evaluating prospects over the weekend, Queen was surrounded by many student-athletes who, understandably, pay close attention to their size and weight. His measurements have a more dire application.
"I have to stay below a certain weight to be able to walk," Queen continued.
Rehabilitation has been deliberate, and Queen's process certainly continues. Pushing through, however, is nothing new.
"Dude, I'm a Cinderella story," he detailed. "Slept on the floor with a blanket and a pillow. I joined the Army $4,000 behind on rent. Now got two beautiful kids, same woman for eleven years. From nothing to something."
Queen now works a more-traditional day job, with his family living in a home donated by the Military Warriors Support Foundation, a gracious gift that he paid for in courage instead of cash.
Currently, Queen's resume comes on a mounting bar, with his work experience stretching wide into the sky every every time the wind gusts. Next up could be a career covering sports. Queen has followed football all of his life, an interest passed down from his mother. In addition to helping at the camp in Pooler, Queen is interning with ESPN Radio Coastal Georgia, potentially-preparing for an opportunity he has long considered.
"Be a sportscaster," he added. "Going to try to go to school for that."
With no preparation and in regular street clothes at the ESPFC, Queen was timed at sub-5.2 in an impromptu forty yard dash. Awarded a Purple Heart and two Army Commendation Medals, this American hero is off and running.