BATAVIA – Beads of sweat pool on Tyler Jansey’s eyeblack – with a cross centered in each – and soon cascade down his cheeks.
The football field has become perhaps his greatest platform to show the world his athletic talent and the genuine sincerity that has molded his life story.
“I’ve always rallied behind God as a source of strength,” the Batavia senior said. “He really has answered my prayers in a lot of different ways. I’ve always prayed about being a Division I athlete or prayed about specific things that really have come true through Him. It’s such a blessing. God really works in mysterious ways.”
The 2022 Kane County Chronicle Football Player of the Year, Jansey led the Bulldogs to a Class 7A state championship appearance. The University of Wisconsin commit led the team with 128 tackles, 17 for loss, four sacks and averaged nine tackles a game. Offensively, Jansey had 675 rushing yards on 89 carries and eight rushing touchdowns. Jansey was a four-year varsity member and three-year starter.
Batavia coach Dennis Piron needed one word to sum up Jansey.
“The word I keep coming up with is authentic,” Piron said. “He is what he is. There is nothing contrived or fake. He is just what he is. People ask me all the time, ‘God, he’s looks so this and that and he’s so gifted.’ I go: ‘No, you’re missing the point: He is, maybe, the hardest working kid I’ve ever coached. The most disciplined. He’s extremely regimented.’
“He cares so greatly. It isn’t just like he’s improving himself. He views it as his mission. He has to be the best player he can be for the benefit of his friends and his team. Everything he does is about everybody else being the best leader, person, student, I mean, man, that kid just busts it in the classroom, weight room, on the field.”
The 6-foot-1, 224-pound Jansey has a particular pair of white cleats he has cycled in and out of the rotation since his sophomore year. Slowly, he kept adding to them: A cross drawn on the back or writing ‘AO1′ – Audience of One.
It’s a faith journey Jansey isn’t shy to share or proclaim to anyone.
“I feel like I really got to know Christ around sixth grade,” Jansey said. “I feel like before that I was going to church with my family and going through the motions. But once I really started to understand my faith, I just understood that He was my creator. He just gave me peace … as a little kid, I was always so angry, and I don’t know, there was something up with me as a little kid.
“God came into my life and changed my heart,” Jansey said. “Once I started to understand my faith and grow in my faith, I feel like I became better as a man. Better as a person. I just really want to give that back to God by spreading my faith through football.”
Jansey recites five psalms before every game he plays: one each for mercy, strength, restoration, protection and a final one to praise his Lord and Savior.
There are plenty of chapters yet to be written. All Jansey knows is he has his faith to guide him through anything.
“I feel like my story [is] a kid that every single down that he was on that field [he gave] 100 percent his all,” Jansey said. “And, really, playing the game he loves. At the end of the day, I feel like I play football because I absolutely love the game. I play football because I want to spread the word of God.
“I play football because if I’m going to do something, I’m going to try to be the best at it. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing pingpong with my brothers or out there on that football field on Friday nights, I’m going to try my hardest to be the absolute best at it and it just so happens football is the game I fell in love with.”
That love, ultimately, is shown by being “the first guy at practice, the last guy to leave,” Piron said.
“He’s excited. He’s passionate. He loves his teammates and he loves his brothers,” Piron said. “He’s right up there when you’re talking to the team as a coach, listening to everything you have to say. … He really is an amazing young man. And as good of a football player you ever hope to coach, but more importantly, just a great example of somebody who’s done everything they possibly can to be as good as they can be. The kid just works his tail off and I absolutely love him.”
To Piron, Jansey is a “great example to all of us.”
“I keep thinking when someone says, ‘Oh, I got to start working out’ or when some kid says to me, ‘I’ll get around to it coach, I know I’m struggling in the classroom,’” Piron said. “If someone gives me an excuse for something, I just say give Tyler Jansey a call. Ask him how he did it.
“He always did it. He was always ready. He always was there when the bell was rung. 100 percent. I mean 100 percent. All of that stuff that you did, he was always there for his team and never made anything else a burden or never made an excuse. None of those things. Ever.”