Christy setting records, leading by example

The wait is finally over for All-American safety Bud Christy.

An interception against Shenandoah University late in the second half has separated Christy from all other defensive players ever to  come through Maryville College. After a shoulder injury cut his junior year short and a torn ACL ended his senior year, the fifth-year senior has finally broken the all-time interception record at MC, with 14.

“It felt good because I’ve been hurt for the past two years and I knew I was so close and didn’t want to get hurt again,” said Christy.

Christy remembers the play perfectly.

“We were playing cover-two zone, and I had three wide receivers on my side. The quarterback was staring down the number-three receiver, and the linebacker was walling him off, which caused the quarterback to sail the ball right to me.”

Christy, also known as “Ole’ Bud” to the football team due to the fact that he is a fifth-year senior, is a 22-year-old, 6-foot, 200-pound, hard-hitting safety from Sequatchie County High School in Chattanooga and was born June 20th, 1989.

In recent years, he has taken a long road to get himself healthy again to play the sport he loves.

In Christy’s junior year, he was on pace to be one of the best safeties in the nation, with five interceptions in only five games. However, a torn labrum in his right shoulder during the fifth game of the year against MC’s rival Averett University ended his hopes of a spectacular season.

Even after missing five games of the season, Christy was still nominated as an all-conference performer in 2009.

After surgery, and many hours of rehab later, he came back his senior season ready to pick up where he left off.

The 2010 season was shaping out to be another great year for Christy. He was nominated as a team captain and a pre-season All-American and had already racked up three interceptions in four games.

Things were looking great for Christy until disaster struck again in the fourth game of the year against Methodist University when he tore his ACL in his right knee while playing on special teams.

With the heart of soul of the Maryville College football team lying on the ground in pain once again, it was as if the season was over.

As I saw him lying on the ground grimacing in pain, I noticed senses of shock, disbelief and sadness coming from the Fighting Scots’ sideline. I remember looking around at the faces of fans, coaches and players and seeing a look of astonishment on each one of them. That is the kind of effect that Christy has on the entire Maryville College community.

To this day, the image of the Bud Christy lying helpless on the field is so surreal. How could a 6-foot, 200-pound monster that lives for big hits and interceptions be injured again? This is not how Christy’s football career was supposed to end.

“I thought I was never going to play football again,” said Christy about the injury. “I couldn’t believe it happened two years in a row.”

Thankfully, Christy was blessed with another opportunity.

Since he didn’t get to finish the fourth game of his senior season and the NCAA was aware of the situation he was in the year before, Christy was lucky enough to be granted a medical redshirt and was able to return to the Fighting Scots for the 2011 season.

As you watch Christy play football, it doesn’t take long to understand why he is an All-American. His rare combination of speed, intelligence, leadership and instinct is a mix that you don’t find often in athletes at any level.

Christy’s 14 interceptions didn’t come by accident. He is always in the right spot at the right time and never seems to make an incorrect read. On the rare occasions that he isn’t stepping in front of passes, you can probably find him laying out whoever has the ball.

Having been blessed to play with Bud for three years now, I have been lucky enough to experience his leadership on the field, as well as his friendly personality off the field. Very rarely do you have a kid on your team that is able to make his teammates better by just being on the field. Bud is one of those rarities. Everyone plays harder when Bud is on the field because no one wants to let him down. Although he is not a captain this year, we still look to him as the leader of our team.

“I’m not very vocal, I just try to lead by example as best I can,” said Christy.

Of course the memories of watching him knock mouth pieces out of opposing wide receivers and being on the field with him as he got his historic 14th career interception are fun to talk about, but in no way does Christy’s intense and vicious play on the gridiron match his demeanor while off the field.

His laid-back and humble character is sincerely enduring to experience. He treats everyone, whether they be new freshmen or experienced seniors, with the same respect and kindness. That is what makes him so well respected.

Playing football for Maryville College next season will not be the same. Without Bud on the team, the Fighting Scots are losing more than just interceptions and big hits; we are losing a great friend.

Obviously Bud’s talents will be greatly missed, but his leadership qualities and ability to always make me laugh is what I will miss the most.

Christy, a business major, is set to graduate from Maryville College in December of 2011. As he moves forth with his life, he hopes to get involved in the railroad industry to start his career.

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