by Marjorie Acosta
The bonds formed on a football team are unlike any other. The players and coaches form their own family on and off the field. They share in the victories and disappointments of both the game and in life. Akil Oliver turned to his football family when he lost his father last year. Although he has the support of his team, it’s still a difficult void to fill. Akil and his father shared a special connection, especially when it came to football. Akil looks back at his time with his father saying, “We had a great relationship. He was the one who taught me how to play football.”
Akil’s father, Akil Larue Oliver, was a big part of the Richmond Giants family. He wasn’t just a parent; he was a friend and motivator for the players and coaches. Coach Eddie Alford was a close friend of Oliver. He remembers the dynamic Oliver brought to every game and practice saying, “They took my best friend. I was in shock. I still expect to see him sitting on those bleachers every day. He always had something inspirational to say to the players. He helped them push harder.”
Akil is definitely his father’s son. He looks and even moves just like his father. During practice, the parents and supporters of the Richmond Giants team feel a sense of peace knowing that a part of Oliver is present and alive in Akil.
Akil’s strength serves as inspiration for his team. The trauma of losing his father could have pushed him away from the game they shared; instead he honors his father every time he steps on the field. He carries his father’s memory during every game as he wears the same number jersey his dad used to wear.
The family ties that bind Akil to his team will forever be a part of the legacy he carries on for his father. The Richmond Giants team is stronger than ever; not only as players, but as young men. They come together at the end of the every practice and tribute Oliver; not only in remembrance, but in honor and respect.