Q&A With Crusader Of The Year Kalif Raymond
By Mary Patalita
Special to GoHolyCross.com
Holy Cross senior and two-sport athlete Kalif Raymond (Lawrenceville, Ga) was named 2015-2016 Crusader of the Year, the most prestigious award a student-athlete at Holy Cross can receive. Raymond competed in football all four years and track and field his junior and senior years.
Named first team All-Patriot League as both a wide receiver and a kickoff returner his senior year, Raymond was a standout member of the football team. During his career he totaled 4,059 all-purpose yards with 18 total touchdowns and caught 155 passes for 1,683 yards. This season, Raymond caught 74 passes for 978 yards and nine touchdowns as a wide receiver, ranking second on the team in each category. As a kickoff returner, he led the team with 14 kickoff returns for 335 yards and one touchdown, to go along with 21 punt returns for 210 yards and a touchdown. He ranked first in the Patriot League in punt returns, second in receiving yards, all-purpose yards and kickoff returns, third in receptions and seventh in scoring. Recently, Raymond signed a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos.
Raymond was named All-New England twice in both football and track. As a member of the track and field team, Raymond broke the school record in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.92 seconds, which was fourth at the New England Championship. In his junior season, Raymond placed second at the New England Championship in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.71 seconds.
Not only did Raymond excel on the football field and on the track, but he also was a standout member in the community. Participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for four years was a formative memory for Raymond.
Recently, Raymond talked to GoHolyCross.com’s Mary Patalita about his four years at Holy Cross, which earned him Crusader of the Year.
What does winning the Crusader of the Year mean to you? What was your reaction when you were picked?
“When they told me I won, I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t understand exactly what they thought of me to give me an award like that. After looking into it, I realized exactly how much they had to go through to nominate me, to think of me as being the Crusader of the Year. I think it is someone who embodies the direction that Holy Cross is trying to go. Between being a high character person who is very dedicated and committed to everything they do, someone that strives to be the best and upholds everything that the Holy Cross motto does. Every task you take, take it at 100 percent. I think it’s someone that not only embodies that within themselves but also within the team, with the coaches and within the community giving back to the privileges that you have and to the people and community around you. I think that’s where the Crusader of the Year stems from. I’m definitely honored to receive this award. Being amongst the most outstanding student-athletes here at Holy Cross, that’s a pretty high accolade so I’m honored that I’m the Crusader of the Year.”
What was it like balancing two Division I sports along with academics?
“It was tough. You really have to prioritize. One thing I really did like about track and football is that they’re related. I always use track, not only to compete, but I also use it as a means to better my craft at football. In football you can never be too fast, and track is always a chance to work on getting faster. Track definitely helped me in that manner. A lot of times it was tough because I would have to go from track practice and bring my football equipment out to the field because as soon as that ends I went straight to the football field, and vice versa. I had to work on a lot on time management because with football practice being three hours and track practice being an hour and a half, that’s four and a half hours of your day that are gone. It took a lot of dedication. With the coaches that we have and the kind of institution we have set up here with the student-athletes at Holy Cross, it definitely made my life easier taking on two sports.”
What skills have you acquired through football and track that you will take with you in the future?
“Hard work. I think it’s more mental than anything. The mental achievements I have and the ability to remain calm in high-pressure situations, and also the ability to keep going. When you’re working out, every rep counts. It’s those mental reps where you want to give up but you know the next guy on the other team is working out just as hard, if not harder so I can’t give up. Same with track, especially with the distance, there are times where you are tired and don’t want to keep going but knowing that the competition you’re going to face in the Patriot League is working just as hard as you are, if not harder. I think I’ve developed a mental toughness more than anything physical taking on two sports.”
What was your reaction when you were offered a contract by the Broncos? What does this opportunity mean to you?
“My reaction was actually more mellow, because I know how hard it is to complete my goal. My overall goal is to make the 53-man roster in the fall. There’s still a lot of work ahead of me. It wasn’t as much excitement but more of a stepping stone to push harder and to be more focused because now that I have a foot in the door, it’s time to walk through it and walk along that path to achieve my dream. It meant a lot to me because it showed that I have an opportunity, but generally you are only given one opportunity so I was more dedicated and hungrier to be better as opposed to being excited because I know how long the journey is ahead of me.”
What was your most memorable game you had as a Holy Cross player?
“I would say the Dartmouth game in 2013. I would say Dartmouth because that was the first time that I saw us come back to win. It wasn’t a victory that we were given. It was a victory where we had to come back from being down by a lot. Not to mention it wasn’t at home, it was away, so it made it that much harder. I think that was the most memorable moment because of the way we sung our song at the end of the game with the passion and energy. It was probably one of the most memorable moments of my football career.”
Because of an injury you almost didn’t get recruited to play football in college, how much has it meant to you that Holy Cross saw your potential?
“It meant a lot. I am glad. What happened in that injury was a blessing in disguise. I would’ve never come to a school like this. Mostly because of the opportunity outside of football, meeting the people I got to meet, being engulfed in the community that I am, there are so many good people. So the fact that they allowed me the opportunity to experience such a great institution meant a lot to me, especially with someone my size, for them to see a spark that other teams didn’t take a chance on. I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t be signing with the Broncos. There are so many things that followed them giving me the opportunity, so I’m very grateful for it.”
Being a Big Brother for the past four years, what have you learned from this experience?
“I think it was the same spark that the coaches saw in me, that I see in the younger kids. Being in Big Brothers, we work in the lower income community with those kids. There are kids that are absolutely outstanding. I remember the first time I saw my little brother. He’s pretty good at basketball but then he invited me into his home and next thing you know he’s picking up the piano. He teaches himself, he learns all types of songs. There’s so much more to these kids than where they are financially. There’s so much spark and brightness in everyone you meet. There’s gold in every face you encounter and it’s easily shown within these kids. If I can be of any help to show the world what kind of spark these kids have, it means a lot to me to see that experience coming from Holy Cross.”
What will you miss most about Holy Cross?
“Kimball, as weird as that seems. It’s weird walking into Kimball and because I’m on a team, especially with so many guys, at any point I can walk in and see someone. Out of 90 guys someone is going to be there. Because of how close we are as a unit, I can walk in there and sit down with anyone and have a conversation. It’s weird because I don’t have to call anybody to go to dinner. I can just go and know someone is going to be there. It’s always comforting to know that. I personally don’t like when people sit alone, but for myself, I’ve never had to worry about that because we are so close as a unit, I can sit with anybody. I can always have someone to sit with breakfast, lunch and dinner, so that was a pretty cool experience.”