INDIANAPOLIS – The guiding role a father can play in a child's life is one that is special and has an impact that cannot be quantified.
A loving father shapes the lives of children through all avenues of life and no matter what one may accomplish, the direction received is not forgotten.
Colts players Anthony Castonzo and Austin Collie received such guidance as younger men and to this day and going forward, they look to have that influence in their lives.
Castonzo joined the Colts as a first-round draft choice in 2011. It was the culmination of years of effort and sacrifice. Like some players, Castonzo played for his father early on, and he was instilled with a message right off the bat that follows him to this day.
"My dad, Bill, was very prevalent in my life growing up. He was basically my first coach," said Castonzo. "He was my coach all throughout pee-wee football, and he instilled the values I have in me today.
"When we used to play, we'd break the practice down with, 'RIP," which stood for respect, integrity and pride. It taught me how to have respect for myself and for the game, integrity in what I did no matter who was watching and to take pride in every (practice) rep and everything you do. I've kind of lived with that mantra all through my career."
Being a first-round choice by an NFL team would seem to connote that finding a school interested in one's talents was an easy process. For Castonzo, that was not the case, but dad assisted.
"I needed his help when I was choosing colleges," said the player taken 22nd overall by the Colts in 2011. "I had zero scholarship offers. I was hearing from a lot of places that I was not going to be able to play big-time college football. My dad stuck behind me the whole way. He told me he believed I had the ability to be a big-time football player. He steered me on the path to not short-change myself. That's basically why I am here today."
Castonzo's Boston College career ended up being more than ideal. He started a school-record 54 games as an offensive tackle. He attended the Fork Union Military Academy in 2006 in preparation. It was his father's suggestion. Castonzo left Boston College as a Rhodes Scholarship candidate with a degree in biochemistry. Support from home helped Castonzo succeed.
"The communication has always been back-and-forth with my parents and me," said Castonzo. "I kind of take all the wise words my parents have to say and see how the advice relates to my life. I go back and forth and analyze what they say, and I say, 'That's the truth, you're right.' It's a great relationship we have where I find my own way as well as listening to advice."
Can a father also be a personal hero?
"Absolutely," said Castonzo. "My dad made sure we had what we wanted growing up. He provided for us. He's lived by the same morals his whole life. He hasn't changed. I'd definitely say he is my hero in addition to being my father. He helped me become my own man. I have a lot of good things from my father that I can pass on to future generations in my family to help his legacy live on.
"He's always going to be my dad. There are two things he's always going to be – my dad and my coach. Even when I come off the field after pro games, he tells me what I saw. He's always going to give me a pat on the back when I'm down. He's always going to knock me down a peg or two if I'm feeling too high. He keeps me even-keeled.
"My dad is my rock. He's always going to be there for me. I'm fortunate to have him in my life."
Collie also benefited from the prominent way his father, Scott, impacted his life. Collie and his siblings, brothers Zac and Dylan and sisters Taylor and Cameryn, had a Cleaver-esque family setting in El Dorado Hills, California. The head of the household was Scott.
"It was a great environment, and my parents represent a great marriage," said Collie. "They raised a stable, happy home, just what a family should be.
"My dad is a great guy. He's a mentor, someone who represents a leader, a great husband, a great father – someone I can model my life after. He's a great example."
Austin and the kids were recipients of guidance that allowed them to excel in every avenue in which kids can. They were not pushed into a specific direction. They were allowed to pursue anything they wanted, as long as they went after it with dedicated efforts.
"My parents didn't care what we did or aspired to be," said Collie. "They wanted us to pursue what we did with everything we had. My dad would say, 'Whatever you choose to do, just be the best you can be.' "
For Collie, fatherly help came through words and deeds. He knew nothing but a strong family structure, and the need to place family before all else was not just a theme, it was a practice, a lifestyle.
"I think it was the whole body of example my father provided, not just bits of advice," said Collie. "The one thing I learned from my dad is the family is always first, no matter what. All the other things are more temporal. The family is what truly is going to exist.
"He instilled a lot of great qualities in his kids. The one thing was family came first. As long as you are a good husband and father, everything takes care of itself. He led by words and example. My brothers and sisters and I have unique relationships with our parents where we can talk openly with them. All lines of communication were always open, and that helped us a lot."
As Collie debated where to attend college, the decision was left up to him. His father only was concerned that the eventual choice would provide the best well-round experience possible.
"My dad wanted the best opportunity for me educationally and from a football standpoint," said Collie. "I originally was planning on going to Stanford, and he was fine with that. I ended up declining and went to BYU."
A father must play different roles through the years in bringing up a child. The end result of the nurturing and direction is the hopeful outcome that Collie and Castonzo feel about their fathers. Both players had a guiding presence that ended with a father being a hero today in adult life.
"I think so," said Collie when asked if his father fit both categories. "It's extremely important that a father can be that way with a son. There are a lot of people in this world who don't have the opportunity to grow up with that father figure. It's bad because it's been a blessing in my life. It's helped me get through trials and learn a lot, like how to become a man myself."
Collie hopes to spend Father's Day with his dad. If he is able to do what is planned, he will be following his father's advice by doing everything he can to the fullest, especially in competition.
"We may go golfing," said Collie. "I won't let him win, though. I'm not that nice."