Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
BOCA RATON — Florida Atlantic senior linebacker Cergile Sincere grew up in a house as the only boy among eight children.
Even with seven sisters, there weren't any pretend tea parties or playing with dolls for Sincere.
Sincere grew up in Belle Glade where playing football is a way of life.
Like many in the farming community, Sincere grew up playing pickup football games until the sun set over the dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee.
"People would always say they are surprised I don't like girlie things, but man, I'm from Belle Glade - that's a football town," Sincere said.
"My mother always knew she could find me by looking outside and I'd always be out in the yard playing football."
And his sisters would often be playing too.
"They'd be out there playing with us sometimes," Sincere said. "And if they weren't playing, they'd be watching when we'd be playing. They were always getting involved."
Sincere has more in common with his sisters than just football. He learned the value of hard work and the value of education.
All of Sincere's sisters have earned or are on track to earn a college degree.
It's a work ethic all the Sincere children learned from their parents, Joseph and Marlene, who both worked for produce farms.
"My parents always preached the value of education," said Rosette Sincere, 29, Cergile's oldest sister. "We really got the message."
Rosette, now a nurse in Boca Raton, was a student at FAU when Sincere showed up as a walk-on from Glades Central High School trying to earn a spot on the team.
"I was able to help him out and give him some support when he first showed up here," Rosette Sincere said.
"He didn't have many friends here then, so it was good that I was here for him."
It didn't take long for the coaching staff to notice a hungry player on the scout team who had the will to succeed.
"We kept seeing him make plays and we just kept our eyes on him," said FAU linebacker coach Kurt Van Valkenburgh.
After practicing during a redshirt season in 2003, Sincere played sparingly as a freshman in 2004.
But he earned a scholarship and a starting assignment in 2005, taking over for Chris Laskowski at outside linebacker.
"My older sisters all have academic scholarships and I finally got an athletic one, so my parents were very proud of all of us," Sincere said.
With the scholarship in hand Sincere's confidence took off and it showed on the field.
"I knew if I was given a chance, I could come on this team and make a name for myself," Sincere said. "Getting that scholarship was a great honor and I always just want to show the coaches that they changed my life by giving me this opportunity."
By the time he was a junior Sincere had already solidified himself as a team leader.
"He has gone through the trauma all college students go through and he achieves in spite of all the responsibilities he has to his family," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said.
"He was a success very quickly here and that's a tribute to him."
This season, the 6-foot, 230-pound Sincere is the unquestioned team leader on defense and is second on the team with 56 tackles and has forced four fumbles this season.
"His growth is beyond anything we could have expected," Van Valkenburgh said.
"To see him go from a walk-on guy that we only knew a little bit about to a guy who has such a leader-ship role and is our big play guy is really amazing."