Family and football lead to Modise's success at UC Davis

Nov. 17, 2017

By: Katy Nogaki
Athletics Communications Fellow

Do you remember what life was like when you were five years old? Many of us find ourselves, from time to time, reminiscing on our younger years because life just seemed more carefree back then. However, for Namane Modise, one of UC Davis football's primary running backs and return specialists, reminiscing on those younger years brings back a less positive memory.

When he was five years old, Namane lost something very special and important to him in his life... his father. But during that same year, he was introduced to something else that would eventually become very special and important to him, and that was football.

Starting with his time on the East Bay Warriors (located in Oakland, Calif.) through his experience as a member of Castro Valley High School's team, the sport has played a major role in his life. After his high school graduation, he chose to extend his playing career, starting at San Francisco City College before transferring to UC Davis.

"One of the main reasons why I chose to go to UC Davis was the education. If the the opportunity to go to the NFL presents itself, then I wouldn't think twice to take that offer. But growing up, I was taught the importance of having a degree because football is just unpredictable, and there's a chance I could sustain an injury," said Modise. "This school is one of the top universities in the nation, so I knew I couldn't pass this up."

UC Davis not only made sense academically for the San Lorenzo native, but being a part of UC Davis' football program confirmed his decision to become an Aggie was the right one.

"I like that Coach Hawkins is a family-oriented guy, and that he looks at us beyond our athletic abilities. He always allows us to voice our opinions and make our own decisions, but at the same time, he tells us that we have to also deal with the outcomes of those decisions. As for the team as a whole, it's a brotherhood, and I know that 10 years from now, I'll still remain in touch with many of them. It's a genuine love."

Juggling academics and athletics at UC Davis is a tedious task at times. For Modise, he hits the ground running from the start of the week, both figuratively and literally.

After waking up at 6 a.m.. Modise will prep for football meetings, which run from 8-9 a.m. That is  followed by practice for the following two hours, a trip to the weight room from 12-1 p.m. before spending the rest of the afternoon attending classes.

At first, Modise found the transition from the semester system to quarters a bit daunting. However, his time management skills, combined with what his mother taught him when he was younger, has helped him truly enjoy the UC Davis student-athlete experience.

"One morning when I was in sixth grade, I remember being so tired to the point that I just did not want to go to school. When I told my mom that, she responded by saying, `If I have to wake up every day, and I'm tired, you can do the same.' When she said that, knowing that my mom gets up every day for work to provide for me and for my siblings, I made a point to always tell myself that there are no excuses because I can do the same thing."

Aside from Namane's mother, another person that made a significant impact on his life is his father.

"During those five years of my life, my father instilled in me the importance of discipline. He was strict, but was also a fun person to be around. When I wanted to hang out with my friends the night before a game, he would advise me to stay home to rest instead. I appreciated that about him, especially when I look back on the things I've accomplished, such as earning (CCSF's) Offensive Player of the Year award in 2016. It helped me realize that with determination and hard work, I have the capability to accomplish  much more than I realize."

Throughout their five years together, Modise's father truly influenced him to become the humble individual he is today.

"I liked that no matter how strict my father was, he would never mix business with family, and he was the provider for our family. That's something I hope to be: a provider and someone my family,  or anyone else, can depend on.

"When I have kids one day, I want to be the father that my dad would have been if he were still around." After laughing to himself, he said in a lightearted manner, "except I'll be a cooler dad."

Namane is the first in his family to attend a UC school, and has already made a name for himself during his first year as an Aggie. IF you speak to him, and watch how he carries himself on and off the field, the maturity he displays -- well beyond his age -- will continue to make everyone around him, including his father, proud.

-- #GoAgs --