Cleveland native joins Red Star Rugby League in Serbia

"The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams." - Oprah

Would you be willing to travel more than 4,000 miles to pursue your dreams?

One Cleveland man did just that, traveling 4,779 miles to be exact.

26-year-old Monte Gaddis left his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio last week to join Red Star Rugby League in Belgrade, Serbia.

With international success now within in reach, Monte remains humble having seen failure first hand.

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As a walk-on for the University of Maryland football team, Gaddis earned playing time as a freshman -- a large feat for a graduate of Division IV Cleveland Central Catholic.

Grappling with the adjustment of a being a student athlete, Gaddis was ultimately kicked out of school due to academic failure.

Academically struggling and emotionally drained, Monte says it was nothing but the "grace of God" that afforded him the opportunity to play at Dean College, a junior college in Massachusetts.

"That's where I got my associates degree, got all my grades back in order and I just realized that life is nothing to play around with."

With his life back on track, Gaddis' dreams of playing football were unremitting.

In 2012, the Cleveland native was awarded a full athletic scholarship to Towsen University.

During his time as a Tiger, Gaddis was a standout. He was named captain, defensive MVP and even helped lead the team to a runner-up finish in the 2013 FCS championship.

Relishing in his accomplishments, Gaddis says what came next would be his greatest obstacle to date.

With graduation behind him and a successful senior season, Gaddis believed the NFL was easily his next move.

He was wrong.

"When the opportunity didn't come knocking at the door, it kind of devastated me," Gaddis said. "I sat out a whole year in 2014 without playing because, you know, I thought I was going to get picked up, so that was probably I would say my worst year. But you know it made me into the man I am today."

In 2015, you may remember, a young man that set up camp outside the Cleveland Browns facility for three days, pleading for a chance to try out for the team.

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Reflecting on the time, Gaddis describes his actions as instinctual.

"I just did it, I did it without even thinking to be honest."

He went on to say, "I just wanted my opportunity you know, out of college I never got the chance to tryout for a NFL team or go to or actually play in a nfl game so I just felt like this was something that could get people eyes open."

Even with his childhood dream deteriorating as days passed, Gaddis endeavored to remain both positive and active.

He began coaching football at his alma mater, Cleveland Central Catholic, and mentoring other youth in the community.

The message that he conveys stresses the importance of thinking outside the box, and having a "plan B."

"Even though you know 'plan A' is always there... you have to have something on the side or even a brand. Get you a brand, put something out there in the world that somebody can’t take from you."

When Gaddis speaks to the youth, what he says is from direct experience.

Constantly promoting himself and his brand on social media platforms led Gaddis to his current opportunity with Red Star.

"Keep promoting yourself because you never know who’s watching and that’s exactly what happened to me," said Gaddis.

"The club hit me up on Facebook and I was surprised... I had to do my research to see who they are and what they’re about and, you know, I was ecstatic."

After landing in Serbia, Gaddis says his focus is to enjoy the journey and become the best rugby player he possibly can.

Red Star Rugby League Club will play their first match this weekend.