September 22, 2021 - Early last week, Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Chris Okoye ‘14 traveled home to accept his induction into the Catholic High School League (CHSL) Hall of Fame. Chris was inducted in recognition for his athletic career spanning from his time at Catholic Central, to Ferris State University and now the National Football League.
Chris was inducted into the CHSL in the same class as Catholic Central Athletic Director, Aaron Babicz, ’93.
“It’s truly an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, as I was reading through prior inductees, it really hit me that I’m really officially a part of the greats,” Chris said. “Seeing my name being added to the same list of recognitions as some of my mentors like Aaron Babicz is a blessing.”
Chris acknowledges that it was no easy feat getting to the place he is now. Like anything worth doing, it has taken Chris hard work, determination, and a support system to help pave the way.
“Catholic Central helped prepare me for college and the NFL by always reminding me to embrace MY journey and not compare myself to others,” Chris said. “Comparison is often a thief of joy for many. Mr. Babicz always reminded me to ‘Control what I can control,’ which is effort and attitude, and that always stuck with me in all aspects of my life.”
Chris shared that of the many life lessons he learned at Catholic Central, the one that is most applicable to his life is “Be about it.” Going into his first year in the league with the Cincinnati Bengals, he was going into a tryout and Mr. Babicz reminded him of the adage.
“What that means is to be intentional about embracing the process daily. You can’t pick and choose when to be great or when to work hard or when to have a burning desire or good attitude,” Chris said.
Chris continues to use the lessons he learned at CC in his career and beyond. His advice for current Catholic Central students? Learn how to self-assess.
“Many people never reach their full potential or half of it because they lack the ability to look in the mirror and hold themselves accountable. It’s easy to look at others and say what they’re doing wrong but the real challenge is being able to look at what you’re doing wrong and being able to correct it. I’m constantly self-grading myself whether it’s in football, relationships, or my spiritual life. My ability to self-reflect and then correct has been fundamental in helping me get better, which led to me being inducted into the Hall of Fame,” explains Chris.
In Chris’ spare time loves reading and going to various self-help seminars and conventions. Chris shares, “I understand that knowledge and a lifelong commitment to personal growth is the key to success, because the moment you stop getting better is the moment you start getting worse.”