As my football career at St. Olaf and my time on campus comes to an end, I have been reflecting a lot on what St. Olaf has done for me and where I would be without this place. For starters, I would likely be graduating from the University of Florida at the end of the year. I attended school there as a freshman. It was not until my second year of college that I stepped foot on this campus. The least I can say is that I am grateful my twin brother chose to come here his freshman year. I visited him twice that year, and the people I met here were incredible. The more I pondered the idea, the more I envisioned myself leaving my home state of Florida to live in Minnesota.
At UF, I found myself lacking an identity. Although it was a big school with numerous opportunities, it was easy to get lost in the crowd. I felt like I didn’t belong there. Sure, I had friends I knew from high school or people I met on campus, but those relationships weren’t that deep. I would randomly see a friend after a few weeks and catch up. That was the usual extent of my conversations. I didn’t actually know anybody all that well.
So, I decided to make the move to the unknown of St. Olaf. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I wanted to play football. It was something I missed, and I had my brother as an in. Little did I know how great of an experience it would become. I was able to play three seasons of college football. That’s not something that many people have been able to do, and I am very proud of the hard work that allowed me to play at this level. Sure, I would have loved to have won more games, but the relationships that were fostered in my three years here have been more than anything I could’ve asked for. The second I arrived on campus, I noted the genuine kindness of my new teammates. They were all extremely excited to reconnect with my brother and eager to greet me and get to know me. Age, race or your background didn’t matter on this team. People wanted to know me for me. These friendships have developed extensively the last three years and will last a lifetime. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to be my teammates and friends. There are so many different personalities on the team, coming from all over the country from various backgrounds. Being a part of this team allowed me to connect with so many people that I would have otherwise never met. To be able to play a game I love alongside these guys for the last three years has been an incredibly gratifying experience.
However, St. Olaf developed me in more ways than one. I am not just known as a football player to myself or others. I have discovered value as a well-rounded person. After being exposed to various viewpoints, backgrounds and personalities, I have developed a stronger sense of who I am, and I have a better idea of how I want to progress through life. I feel prepared academically, socially and emotionally to confront anything that my future holds, and I don’t know if I would have reached this point at another college. My time here has provided me with countless unforgettable, rewarding experiences that will stick with me forever.
Thank you, St. Olaf, for letting me live out my dream of playing college football. And thank you especially for preparing me for life afterward.