Being a wide receiver takes discipline, focus, technique and nimble footwork. Brahmas receiver Ashland Anderson, has spent the majority of his life fine tuning these skills.
The path he walks now was first laid out for him when he was a child studying karate with his father.
“One of the biggest things in karate is learning and practicing technique 24/7, and that relates to football because if you don’t work on technique, such as footwork, your hands and everything else, you’re not going to succeed,” Anderson said.
Since the age of 8, Anderson’s father, Antonio Anderson, watched his first Bruce Lee film where his love for martial arts began. At the age of 11, he began his first martial art lessons, and has been perfecting his craft ever since. Since 2000, Antonio has owned his own martial arts studio, “Anderson Pro Karate” in West Hills, California, and currently has 34 years of experience.
Anderson has been training for as long as he can remember. He was taught to kick and punch when he learned how to walk.
When Anderson was 7-years-old, he began his formal training at Rifkin Professional Karate Center in Canoga Park. There, he trained in Taekwondo and Aikido, where he eventually received a red belt after six years of experience.
Anderson’s father began his training by instructing Anderson to fight with him when he was just a child.
“Even though I was four-feet shorter than him, it didn’t matter what size I was. We would always put on gear and he would always fight me,” Anderson said. “It taught me that the size doesn’t matter. It taught me to get to that level.”
However, at 13-years-old, Anderson quit martial arts when he made the football team at El Camino Real Charter High School. His practice schedule conflicted with karate—football took front seat.
As he continued to play, Anderson noticed he was utilizing his martial arts skills on the field.
“A lot of people think it’s just about kicks and punches but it’s not,” Antonio Anderson said. “It is more about not fighting than it is about fighting.”
Playing as a receiver in football comes with physical punishment. They have to endure vicious hits from 200-300 pound defenders.
For Anderson, standing at 6’6”, he is confident he can withstand the hits because of his training at a young age and small size, which helped him to never feel intimidated.
The life lessons Anderson learned from his father are traits that he has displayed from his adolescence and to adulthood. Those attributes have helped him believe he can succeed at Pierce.
Antonio has taught him respect. Anderson believes he should not talk back to his coaches and respond with courtesy titles such as “sir” or “ma’am.”
“He’s a hard worker, he doesn’t give up. No matter the situation, he’s going to do what he needs to do and get stuff done. I have nothing negative to say about him. He’s out there doing what he needs to do,” teammate Jamere Austin said.
Anderson’s main goal is to take advantage of the opportunity he has with Pierce football and continue to improve to get to a four-year university.