Whatever your goals and dreams are in life, you’ve likely had a support system of people to help you get there – friends, family and others around you who share your dreams, rally around you when you stumble and celebrate you when you succeed.
James Conner, a professional running back, says he wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far without his.
We recently had the opportunity to spend some downtime with Conner while he was back visiting the place he grew up: Erie, Pa.; which also happens to be the home city and namesake of Erie Insurance.
We shared our mutual love for Erie and then got to talking about the people that shape our lives, decisions and – in James’ case – his football career.
Working Toward a Goal
There was one particular person who stood out to James: his high school football coach, Mark Soboleski. The pair met when Conner attended McDowell High School, located in a suburb of Erie. Conner recalled those grueling summer practices that would ultimately give him the discipline to become a professional athlete.
“When you are on the practice field at the beginning of the season, and it’s hot and the coach is in your face,” Conner said, “I was just asking myself, ‘Man, I’m exhausted. Why is he always picking on me?’”
At the time, Conner says, it was hard to understand why the coach seemed to be pressuring him to work harder than his teammates.
But Soboleski saw it a bit differently.
“I remember our coaches saying, ‘This kid is special, he’s really doing something here,’” Soboleski said. “I wanted James to be great all the time, and I knew that if he would play at the college level then he would have to be great all the time to be successful. Part of my role is preparing these kids for life—on and off the field.”
A Game Plan for Your Life
Having a mentor is all about trust – someone you can open up to, who understands your struggles and knows what you want to achieve.
“If you don’t have mentors, you can easily veer off the right path,” Soboleski said. “If my players are successful and prepared, I know I’ve done my job.”
At Erie Insurance, that’s just how we do business. Every day, our customers trust our agents to help them be prepared as possible for what life might throw their way.
Find an ERIE agent near you to see why our personalized service makes all the difference.
Want more James Conner?
Check out more exclusive interview and other videos with James Conner on our website. Below, learn more about James, the people who had his back and his love for his hometown in this behind-the-scenes slideshow:
Behind the Scenes with James Conner
Conner sports an “It’s Okay to Love Erie” shirt from Erie Apparel, a beloved tee retailer in his hometown. “I love being from Erie (Pennsylvania),” he said. “It’s not too small, it’s not too big, everybody just knows everybody and there is love all around. I just love the people and it’s my comfort zone.”
Professional running back James Conner walks through the McDowell High School training facility in Erie, Pennsylvania, with his former coach, Mark Soboleski.
“I knew if it wasn’t for Coach Soboleski looking out for me, I probably wouldn’t have made it to the University of Pittsburgh or to the professional level,” Conner said. “He wanted things done the right way and I carried that (philosophy with me) to Pittsburgh.”
Just like Conner’s coach had his back... ERIE and your agent have yours. A local ERIE agent is here to support, assist and help make sure you have the insurance protection you need for your life and budget. Connect with a local ERIE agent in your neighborhood at erieinsurance.com.