Ardoin Faces Challenges One Day at a Time|
September 23, 1998
The road leading to this point in Ty Ardoin's life and career has been filled with highs and lows. At moments, he has been on top of the world. Other times, life has put tough challenges in his way. Yet, through it all he has maintained his strong work ethic and positive attitude. Perhaps the element in his life that has gotten Ardoin through is his faith that if he worked hard and remained strong, everything would turn out for the best.
Ironically, Ardoin never wanted to be a football player. It was his father that led him to the sport that is now very much part of his identity.
"My dad has been the biggest influence in my football career, Ardoin said. I didn't like football growing up. He got me into football because he was an all-state running back when he was in high school. However, he was too small to go on and play in college. I feel like I'm living out my dad's dream. When I have a good game he is always there to congratulate me.
While at Beaumont West Brook High School, Ardoin led his team to a 11-2 record his senior year while tallying 105 solo tackles and 58 assists. He was named Beaumont's defensive player of the year and the district's MVP. Ardoin was recruited by many top schools. But, he still remembers when head coach Spike Dykes came to his house for a recruiting visit.
"Coach Dykes came in and put his feet up on the coffee table," Ardoin said. "Right then, I knew he was a pretty down to earth person. Most of the coaches that recruited me were very high on themselves. Coach Dykes was very nice and humble. He told me I could come in here and help make Texas Tech a better team."
As a freshman, Ardoin made his mark immediately by playing in ten games, recovering a fumble against Arkansas State and playing in the Copper Bowl victory over Air Force. The groundwork had been laid for future success.
Taking away from the happiness of a strong freshman campaign was the fact that Ardoin's parents had gotten divorced. Suddenly, a piece of the world he had always known had been changed drastically. It is a memory he is reminded of everyday by the tattoo on his right arm a cross with his parents birth dates on each side and the word eternity above it.
"The tattoo symbolizes to me that even though my family is not together physically, God will keep us together spiritually, Ardoin said. (And) that there is nothing in my heart that says I don't have a family, as far as I'm concerned they are still together."
As he returned for his sophomore year, Ardoin was slated as a starting special teams player, but he was still down on the depth chart at linebacker. But, he continued to persevere and worked his way up to second team behind starter Robert Johnson at outside linebacker. By the end of the 1996 season, he had appeared in all 11 games with ten total tackles.
With the graduation of Johnson, it was Ardoin's turn to step into the starting lineup. Yet, there was no drop off in the eyes of teammates and coaches.
"He brings a lot of excitement like Robert Johnson did," Raider linebacker Keith Cockrum said. "He makes a lot of big plays and tackles for losses. He's done a great job at the position."
"He has continued the fine tradition at Sam linebacker," assistant coach Larry Hoefer said. "Ty has done a good job and is passing it on to the younger guys. He's a leader by example. His actions on the field and at practice are what people look up to him for."
He responded to the challenge of starting with solid performances throughout the 1997 season. He tied for team high in tackles for loss with 11 for 77 yards. He finished the season with 65 total tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. His highlights included a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown against Oklahoma State.
He would follow the fall campaign with an excellent spring practice.
"Ty got better every single day during the spring," defensive coordinator John Goodner said.
"This past spring was an important growing process for me because I saw the field better than I did my junior year," Ardoin said. "It seemed like a real different view of the field. I was reading plays before they would happen."
Things, seem to be going well for Ardoin. But, once again, tragedy struck not once, but twice.
Within five months, both of Ardoin's grandfathers would be taken for him.
"It was hard losing both of my grandfathers, Ardoin said. They were both tough on me about school and pushed me to be successful. Unfortunately, they won't be able to see what I achieve, but I'm still going to go out and do what I need to do to be a success."
"I was sitting at my grandfather's funeral and thought No one expected him to pass away, Ardoin remembered. He just laid down to take a nap, and he wasn't here.
I relate it to football by realizing that I need to execute each play like it's going to be my last. I was real timid my junior year and didn't make as many plays as I could have. Going into this year, I'm taking the attitude that I'm going all out every time. You never know what is going to happen next in life."
With his experience, attitude and physical prowess, Ardoin is clearly one of the main cogs in the defense. Yet, he has often been lost in the shuffle amongst a talented defensive unit on a Texas Tech team with high expectations. Ardoin isn't likely to be the first person to be interviewed. He hasn't received the accolades of Montae Reagor. He isn't outspoken like Darwin Brown. He isn't the new kid on the block like Rob Peters.
"It gets me down sometime, Ardoin said. But in life some people have their time before you."
However, Ardoin isn't changing his game or demeanor to gain more attention. No, in 1998, he will be the same player who has continued to supply solid play at the Sam linebacker position as an anchor for the Red Raider SWARM defense.
As for the future, maybe this year will produce a shot in the National Football League. If not, he will pursue a career in physical therapy. Whatever happens this year, Ty Ardoin stands ready to take whatever God has planned.
"The only thing I can do is pray, Ardoin said. The Bible says the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. I am going to try to do my best by the Lord's standards, and, hopefully, he will bless me this year. I'm coming into the season trying to do the best I can for the team. I know the high talent level of this team. The best thing I can do is play my part on the team, work hard and do everything to the glory of God."