June 8, 2012 in Sports

Shock’s Sanders thrilled kids can be part of his AFL experience

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Terrance Sanders says he plans to continue playing ‘as long as I have that love for the game … and right now I’m still loving it.’
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For Terrance Sanders, nearly every day is bring-your-daughter- to-work day.

On a typical Wednesday, it was bring 2-year-old Tiana to Spokane Shock practice, a television interview, grab a bite to eat, knock off another interview while holding Tiana in his arms and then head to an afternoon doctor’s appointment for his sore knee.

Just another day at the office.

“My job is about two times as hard as everyone else’s, but I get paid the same,” the veteran defensive back said, laughing. “I’m not looking for any special treatment, I’m not looking for any sympathy. This is my life and my kids are part of it.

“They get to experience things a lot of kids don’t. It’s hard as far as managing and juggling everything, but the enjoyment I get out of it – they’re here when I accomplish things – I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

He prefers it this way. Sanders spent last season in Spokane while girlfriend Claudia, her 7-year-old son Raesean and the couple’s daughter Tiana were in Arizona. Sanders didn’t like being out of the communication loop.

They’re reunited in Spokane this season but that presents challenges. Claudia has a full-time job. Sanders is in the middle of an 18-game Arena Football League season. Raesean is in first grade and Tiana is a bundle of energy.

Sanders helps Raesean get ready for school before heading to practice, often with Tiana at his side, and he’s home when Raesean’s school day ends. If he has a road trip or other complications arise, several friends help watch the kids. While Sanders practices, Tiana usually hangs out in the end zone away from the action with players who are on injured reserve. He said the team has been supportive because he’s proven it doesn’t interfere with his on-field performance.

The Shock provides $200 per month for housing and some meals. Sanders, who earns $400 per game and $50 with each victory, said Claudia’s salary makes paying the bills possible.

“My mind wouldn’t be as focused without them here,” he said. “Family support is huge to my success.”

Sanders has eight interceptions and five returns for touchdowns (four kickoffs and one missed field goal). He leads the AFL in tackles (82.5) and kick-return average (23.7).

“Since I’ve been here, hands down (the MVP) has been T-Sanders,” linebacker Micah King said. “He’s a playmaker, a clutch player. When we need something he’s always there to get it done. He’s really a comedian, he’s got a great live personality and he always has a smile on his face.”

Head coach Andy Olson understands Sanders’ situation better than most. Olson retired from arena football because of the financial strain.

“It’s tough to do this for a living and have a family,” Olson said. “I had two kids when I was in af2 making about half of what they make now. We just couldn’t do it. We just took too much of a financial loss every year. If I could make a living, I’d probably still be playing.”

Sanders, 28, plans on finding a job after the season.

As for his playing career, it’s one season at a time as he chases his first championship ring.

“I’m winding down,” he said. “The window keeps closing. I’ve been saying that for two years, but I still feel like I have a lot to offer.”

The busy days mean Sanders is usually the first one in bed at night. He admits some days are tough, but he wouldn’t change a thing.

“I get those thoughts (of leaving football and finding a job) all the time, after every game when I wake up all banged up and the doubts creep into my mind,” he said. “Is it that time? Is this the final injury? As long as I have that love for the game, it’s going to drive you through any injury and right now I’m still loving it.

“I bring my daughter to practice and she keeps me feeling young. I look over and she’s running around having fun and it’s hard for me not to do the same.”


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