Be slow to judge, but if you must judge, judge gently. If you must judge me, walk a mile in my shoes first. And if you must still judge me, judge me by my standards, not yours.
Unfortunately, in our visual and superficial society, where physical appearance is more important than what resides inside, Nate Tobias’ size is relevant. There are those who might look at Tobias, form an opinion and forgo the chance to get to know the person.
In many ways, that is sad. But because he has always been bigger than other kids his age, Tobias has come to accept his size, to embrace it, to become okay with it.
For Tobias, his size is what it is. It is that same approach that he takes with our society.
Acceptance plays a key role in learning. And learning is one of the main ingredients of teaching.
“When I was younger those things bothered me,” said Tobias of comments made about his size by his peers. “But when you grow up you let those things roll off of you. The people who do that have nothing to show for their life. Now if I hear them, I just laugh about it.”
At 6-6 and 405 pounds, Tobias is the biggest person to ever play football in Lebanon County.
In many ways, Tobias’ size precludes him from playing most sports. And while size can be an advantage in the game of football, it does provide limitations for Tobias.
Tobias is a senior defensive tackle and offensive guard on the Lebanon High football team. The Cedars tend to use him inside, between the tackles, where there is more emphais placed on hand-to-hand combat and strength than mobility.
“It’s both a blessing and a curse,” said the well-spoken Tobias of his size. “It’s easier to move people, but I’m not as fast as some people, and I have to take bigger steps.
“Off the field, I’d probably say it’s a blessing,” continued Tobias. “I like being big. I built my character around it.”
Tobias began playing football when he was 13, and in the seventh grade. Before that, his size had prevented him from playing the game.
“It is late to start playing,” said Tobias. “They always had weight limits (in the Lebanon Valley Midget Football League), and I wasn’t meeting the requirements because I’m huge.”
Because of lingering academic difficulties from last year, Tobias did not compete in Lebanon High’s first three games this season. Despite Tobias’ absence, the Cedars went 2-1, their best start to a year in recent memory.
“Last year, I was having trouble with school, so I was ineligible for the first three games this season,” said Tobias. “I’ll be back in Week Four, and I’m anxious to play.
“Right now, I’m not in the best of shape,” Tobias added. “But I’m bigger and faster than I’ve ever been. I’m anxious to show people what I can do.”
To show his support for and to stay connected with his teammates, Tobias was on the sidelines for two of the Cedars’ first three games. But there was some place he would’ve rather been – on the field with them.
“Emotionally it hurt when I wasn’t able to play,” said Tobias. “It was hard, but it was the position I put myself into. I think we’re doing great. If we click on both sides of the ball, I think we have a very, very strong chance of going to the playoffs, and even going far in the playoffs.”
While Tobias may have learned to live with his unique size off the field, locating clothing his size remains difficult. Tobias, who wears a size 16 shoe, does a lot of his shopping on the internet.
“Sometimes, yeah it is hard to find clothing in my size,” said Tobias. “There are a few stores I know of which have my size. But shoes I can’t find anywhere.”