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June 15, 2016

The Soul's Wayne Tribue not your typical Arena League football player

Football Soul
061516_wyanetribue_PS Courtesy of the Philadelphia Soul/for PhillyVoice

Wayne Tribue (69) earned second team All-Arena honors as a rookie in 2014.

At first glance, Wayne Tribue’s football resume is rather common. He’s played the game since middle school, right through high school and college, and was good enough to get a look at a handful of NFL camps.

A closer look reveals a guy with much broader interests. For starters, he graduated with a degree in Biochemistry. He has been on skiing trips across Europe, to Germany, Italy and Austria.

With a father in the Air Force, his family lived in Mexico, Spain and Egypt before his father retired and they settled in York, Pa. He has also visited the Philippines, where he has several relatives on his mother’s side.

He aspired to be a pilot and might have attended the Air Force Academy if not for the fact he wore glasses. As it turned out, he declined an offer to the U.S. Military Academy, choosing instead to play football at Temple.

"... you can tell from his demeanor, the way he carries himself; he takes notes and is always asking a lot of questions. You can tell he’s definitely got that background and his brain is moving in a different direction than a lot of other people.’’

While he continues to play in the Arena Football League, his second season with the Philadelphia Soul, he hasn’t totally discounted going to medical school. Perhaps to be a pediatrician.

What he remains sure about is that he is not yet ready to give up the game. An offensive lineman, he is 6-foot-3, 330 pounds. Certainly not a common site on the slopes, or someone in a white coat writing prescriptions for whooping cough.

“He’s not the normal athlete, obviously, because of what he’s done,’’ assistant coach Phil Bogle said. “We go around the room at the start of the season letting guys tell their teammates who they are. He always leaves that part out (about his background). I kind of make him mention those things, and his teammates are so shocked and so surprised.

“He’s a pretty calm guy, obviously not on the football field, and you would never expect that out of him. But you can tell from his demeanor, the way he carries himself; he takes notes and is always asking a lot of questions. You can tell he’s definitely got that background and his brain is moving in a different direction than a lot of other people.’’

The Soul are tied for first place with Orlando in the American Division at 9-2. There are five games remaining in the regular season. By then Tribue hopes an NFL club contacts him for another tryout.

Bogle, who played for three NFL teams, knows what it takes to play in that league. Playing two line positions, he said, makes Tribue extremely valuable.

“There’s no secret why he’s been to four NFL camps,’’ Bogle said.” He’s physical, he can move, he’s pretty much the complete player. I think it’s about him finding the right situation.

“He’s probably the toughest guy we have on our team,’’ he added. “With his NFL experience, finding him was like a gem. He sets the tone for us every week. He has that attitude, a player who goes above and beyond. He’s always the first one downfield to get the d-backs off our receivers, but with such a confined area (field is only 50 yards long), sometimes there’s friendly fire and he’s picking off our players too.’’

Tribue’s attention to detail is easily traced to his parents. While he certainly learned discipline and structure from his father (now employed by the FAA), it was his mother, a nurse, who set the standard for allowing athletics into his life.

“To say the least,’’ he said with a laugh. “I’m pretty relaxed. I get that from my mom. But when I wanted to play Little League football she said I had to get straight A’s for two straight years before I could.’’

Older brother Ryan also helped pave the way, as little Wayne tried to learn from his mistakes. After starting out skiing and snowboarding in the Camp Hill area, their father would take them skiing to Vermont and Upstate New York. It was in high school when they skied the Alps.

He hasn’t skied since then, saying, “Football coaches are always saying they don’t want you to take any unnecessary risks.’’

That included the Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. He played preseason games for Denver, San Francisco and Dallas, and was on practice squads with Denver and New Orleans.

“The first couple of times it kind of gets to you,’’ he said about being released. “After a while, you get used to it. You see the handwriting on the wall when your reps change.’’

Now 26, Tribue played for Jacksonville in the AFL in addition to his two seasons in Philly. In the offseason he continues training, saying, “You never know when the phone is going to ring.’’

He took the MCATs (Medical College Administration Test) coming out of Temple, but taking the next step remains in the waiting room.

“I love the whole team aspect, of playing with guys you never met,’’ he said, ‘’and creating a bond that you can’t replicate anywhere else.’’