When he’s out on the field, Racer Harkins said his mind is working nonstop.
The McAlester senior has been playing football since 7th grade, and he said his favorite thing about the game is literally the X’s and O’s.
“I like the technical aspect of it. I like how everyone has to actually work together for it to actually function, for the team to actually work and be good,” Harkins said. “You can’t have a weak link, everyone’s got to pull their weight.”
Harkins said before the game, he focuses on the game plan and what his role is going to have to be to help the team succeed. And he admitted that there are plenty of nerves in the locker room — but it ultimately serves as fuel on the field.
“Every game,” Harkins said. “I like it more. I think it makes you play harder because you’re so worried about failing, you’re so worried about doing bad that you’re even more focused…so every game I’m nervous.”
Harkins can usually be found flying across the field as a linebacker for the Buffs, but said that wasn’t the position he originally thought he would play — and he credits one of his coaches for helping him see there was another path he could take.
“My freshman year, I was still trying to be quarterback...I can run, I just couldn’t throw. And that was the hardest part of my career so far is just letting go of being quarterback and realizing that I can help the team in another way,” he said. “Coach (Brady) May really helped me with that and kind of gave me the tough love…that I am good enough to contribute in another way.”
After school, he said he plans on earning a college degree and exploring his career opportunities out of state. And if that doesn’t pan out, he’s already got another choice in his back pocket.
“(I want to) make money, probably move out of Oklahoma,” Harkins said. “If that doesn’t work, just become a funeral director.”
As he looks back on his time living in McAlester, Harkins had no hesitation in crediting the people whom he said have given him the love and support to be who he is today.
“Oh, my parents. I wouldn’t have a house without them,” Harkins said. “They feed me every night, they run three business so I can actually have a comfortable home life…I still work for them, but they’re definitely my biggest (supporters).”
And as he prepares to wrap up his final season in black and gold, Harkins had advice for those that will fill his shoes one day — using a little bit of the personal knowledge he has learned along the way in his own career.
“Find what you’re good at and stick to it,” Harkins said. “Find what you’re interested in, and just expand in that. And you’ll have your whole life figured out by then.”
Contact Derek Hatridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.