Family thing: Tolton’s Teklesenbet follows parents’ work ethic
By Cameron Teague-Robinson
Posted Sep 28, 2017 at 7:36 PMUpdated Sep 28, 2017 at 8:17 PM
In last week’s game against Helias, Tolton senior Eyob Teklesenbet got a welcome surprise.
It was dedication night for the Trailblazers, when the players dedicate the game to the person of their choosing. Eyob chose his father, Teklesenbet Abrha.
“He works so hard,” Eyob said. “Everything he has been through, all the adversity, for me to be blessed with this life he has given me. I’m blessed, I appreciate it.”
Abrha doesn’t attend many of his son’s games because of his job, a manager at PepsiCo. But last Friday, he showed up.
“Wow,” was all Eyob thought.
“I played harder, and it just motivated me,” Eyob said. “Usually, I get tired at halftime, but I didn’t even get tired. He came to high-five me at halftime. I loved it.”
Eyob puts a high priority on family, much like his mother and father, who are immigrants from Eritrea.
It’s one of the reasons Eyob loves football so much, as well.
“It’s a family thing,” Eyob said. “I love how we get hyped for each other, no matter who makes a difference in the game.”
This year, Eyob has been one of the players making a difference. At defensive end, he has tallied 50 tackles, two sacks, six tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries.
To Tolton coach Chad Masters, he is the ultimate team player.
“He is always going and has a strong work ethic. He desires to be good at things and works his tail off to get good at them,” Masters said.
Part of that work ethic stems from his father and his mother, Genet Tzegay. Eyob said the two never run out of stories. He can recite part of his father’s life story from memory.
His father moved to the United States because Eritrea was in a war at the time. He didn’t want to join the army, so instead he came to the United States, where he began by working at a 7-Eleven in Virginia. Eyob said his father would tell him about the five-mile walk from the apartment to work. His mother began working at a McDonalds.
The two saved enough money and moved to Columbia, where Eyob’s aunt and uncle lived. After they moved, Eyob’s mother began working in cleaning for a hotels, while his father did boxing work in a factory.
Now, Eyob’s mother does custodial work for Missouri, while his father works at PepsiCo.
It’s a story Eyob takes a lot of pride in.
“It really motivates me, especially knowing how they worked hard. They don’t come to my games because they are always working, and I never get sad over that because they are working to provide for my family, and I love that,” Eyob said. “That’s why I want to give back by working as hard as I can on here, in the field and in the classroom.”
On the field, Eyob has grown since he began playing in the seventh grade, and even more since he came to Tolton as a freshman.
“It’s the ability to work and develop himself into a player,” Masters said. “We used to always joke with him that we would move him to offensive line, but he just developed himself through the weight room and everything into being a pretty good athlete.”
After his sophomore year, Eyob began to take football very serious.
“It was just realizing how much I loved the game and Coach Masters telling us to buy in,” Eyob said. “When you buy in and fall in love with all the bonds you build, you do things for the people you love.”
Eyob started on varsity for the first time last year. A district victory over North Callaway gave him a taste of postseason success. He, and many of the other seniors, went to work in the offseason with a goal of a district championship in mind.
While the record isn’t exactly what the team wanted, Eyob has helped lead a defense that has kept Tolton (2-4) in nearly every game this season.
“He is going to play his butt off and expect others to do the same. This year, he’s been great, even last year. He has really blossomed,” Masters said.
Whether the end of the year brings a district championship, Eyob’s goal, as always, is to make his family proud. Including his Tolton family.
“Family is the No. 1 thing for me,” Eyob said. “I prioritize family, school and then football, but at the end of the day, I try to make them all equal because they’re all the love of my life. I will do anything for the love of the game and my family.”