Things took an unexpected turn when Conner Sibley had his fifth concussion during football practice at Auburn. For the senior, it was a turn that would change his career.
Since he was four years old, Sibley dreamed of playing football for the Tigers.
“I was a preferred walk on out of high school,” Sibley said. “I moved here [Auburn] to work for a year and get in-state tuition, then walked on after that first year. So that whole first year made it mean even more to me because I was having to work even harder to gain weight so I could play again. In a lot of ways, it was a dream come true because I wanted to be here since I was a little kid, but it was still a lot of hard work.”
But his dreams were cut short in the fall of his junior year. Sibley dressed out for the first six football games, then had two concussions during practice which forced him to sit out for the rest of the season.
When he returned to the field for spring training, Sibley was encouraged by his performance. Practice continued to go well into the fall; he even earned a starting position for special teams.
“I was really excited for the season to come,” Sibley said.
His health was finally consistent, but another unexpected concussion changed his hopes for a season of success.
“After the concussion, I went to the neurologists and he told me I could not play football anymore. At first, it was very shocking, but I kind of knew that going into it. I knew if I had another one they would say I couldn’t play anymore.”
“In that moment, it felt like everything I had worked for since I was four years old was taken from me and there was nothing I could do about it.”
Sibley kept his hopes high, surrounded himself with encouragement, and tried to stay positive during his transition from being an athlete to a regular student. While he was looking for things to occupy his time, his love for music developed.
“In a way, it was an answer to prayer because I had been wanting to chase music a lot more,” Sibley said. “I wanted to see what that looked like for the first time without sports consuming my life.”
It was time for a new chapter in his life.
“So I started making music,” Sibley said.
“I did an internship with a studio where I produced the Backstreet Boys new album,” Sibley said. “That was my first step into the music world on a large scale. Ever since that I’ve just personally been making a lot of music on my own, seeing what that looks like and learning more of what kind of music I like and what works best for me.”
Sibley found a way to make an unexpected change in his career encourage his other passions. He explored options and outlets, but for him music was the answer. Now, he has completely redirected his career path.
“My dream it to make my career out of music,” Sibley said. “It is what I love doing. If I got to do music every day for the rest of my life, that would be a dream come true for me.”
What he thought was the end of one dream ended up opening the door to another. But Sibley has not left football completely in the past, he still carries the life-lessons of hard work and determination with him.
“All of the friends I have made have pushed me to be better, even in football,” Sibley said. “You carry this mindset as an athlete that it’s not going to be easy, ever. If you are going to have anything good happen, you are going to have to work hard. Football showed me what it looks like to work hard and dedicate all of your time to something to make it happen. So, I have lots of takeaways from being an athlete for so long that now with music, or even anything I do, I go into it with the mindset of knowing it’s not going to come easy.”
Even though a fifth concussion was never in his plans, Sibley now sees it as an opportunity to pursue other interests. A life-changing injury turned out to be his most disguised blessing.
“At the end of the day, I’m honestly thankful for it. I feel like I got to experience what I wanted to with football. I did it and gave it my all.”