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For the Green Terror Football Team

For those who do not know, I have the distinct privilege of being the faculty mentor to McDaniel College's Green Terror Football Team. In addition to that role, I am also privileged to teach these young men, many of whom sign up for my classes. This past Saturday I watched them fight a dogged battle against a conference foe. And come up a wee bit short. Like three points short. But short is short. I get that.

So this post is for them.

I have watched football all my life. I understand (most of) the rules and the plays. But I have never really understood football until now. And I am only starting to understand it: what it takes to get up play after play after you have been banged around. Or what it takes to play with your whole heart and come up short, and yet get on the bus, go back to campus, and get ready for the next opponent the next week. And I freely admit that I still have a lot to learn.

As I watched the team yesterday, I was thinking about how there is a theme running through higher education circles currently about instilling more grit and resilience in college students. Some feel that this generation's students are too weak and anxious; they need to toughen up!

Well, there are 125 or so young men on a college football team in Westminster, Maryland who are pretty danged tough. They show grit and resilience every Saturday afternoon. They showed it in abundance this past Saturday, in a tough, hard loss. But they never gave up until the very last second. Every single one of them was attuned to what was happening. They were a group of gritty and resilient souls.

I am the luckiest professor in the conference to be this close to these champions, these student athletes who show so much grit and resilience on the field and in their lives. Because as the mentor, I get to hear about the struggles they have in their lives, too. In their classrooms. At home. With finances. And how they overcome them. I am privileged and blessed (yes, I'm using that word) to get to help them.

For those administrators and faculty out there in higher education who want to cultivate more grit and resilience among their student body: look to your student athletes.

Because if they are anything like the Green Terror Football team, they've got grit and resilience in spades.

13 thoughts on “For the Green Terror Football Team

  1. Debbie Diehl

    Wow! As the mother of two former Green Terror Football players, this article resonates with me! How refreshing to hear a college administrator talk like this! I have five children and so far three have played college sports. It's not easy and there are lots of challenges. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. Gretchen McKayGretchen McKay

      Thank you for the comment! I have been surprised at how widely shared this post has been. I wrote it from the heart and I thank you for taking the time to write this. I will keep cheering and supporting in all ways!

      Reply
  2. Kevin Loney

    Dr. McKay, I'm a graduate of a McDaniel rival (Dickinson) and currently an assistant football coach at Bowdoin College. Thank you for your words and observations. It has always been refreshing to hear and see professors and administrators walking in the shoes of the student-athletes. Please keep up the good work, and hopefully the young men you are working with understand how lucky they are. Have a great season, and please take it easy on my Red Devils in a couple of weeks.

    Reply
    1. Gretchen McKayGretchen McKay

      Thanks for leaving a comment here, Kevin. I went to Colby College as an undergraduate, so it looks like we are rivals any way you slice it! I am very determined to keep working with these young men and do all I can to help them succeed off the field, and cheer them when they are on it. Take care and good luck to you!

      Reply
  3. Shawn scott

    Thank you what you do. It is great to see the faculty and the students support each other. It is a testament to the dedication of the faculty and staff what they do for these young men. Having a senior and a sophomore in the team I can say both boys picked the right school.

    Reply
    1. Gretchen McKayGretchen McKay

      Shawn - thanks for leaving this comment. I will say this: your sons have really supported me, and I have tried to do the same. I am glad I had a chance to talk to you at the F&M game, especially about your senior and his presence in the class of Fall 2015. They have made me a better teacher and I'm only getting started in terms of talking about how we can best educate these student athletes. Thanks again.

      Reply
  4. Scott Evans

    Dr. McKay your post was fantastic. I strongly agree with your thoughts and hopes for student-athletes. Football, as well as, other athletic programs do create grit in students that higher education is dreaming of.
    I was on the other end of your teams 3 point loss this past week at F&M. I work in the area of Spiritual Development with athletes at our school. I observed both programs battle with perseverance and resilience. Then many of them huddled together in the middle of the field together united to pray. These young men are to be commented for their character and their grit.
    Well done McDaniel athletes and Dr. McKay.

    Reply
    1. Gretchen McKayGretchen McKay

      Thank you so much for leaving this comment, Scott. It was great to see the two teams at the end. I commend you for your work. I love learning from and helping these football players. I am overwhelmed at the response my post - which was for them - has received from so many. Thanks for all you do and leaving this comment.

      Reply
  5. Carol Herrera

    Dr. McKay: As a parent of one of the football players, I want to say thank you for your support and words of encouragement. Knowing that my son has this kind of support at school is reassuring and lets us know that he made the right choice!

    Reply
    1. Gretchen McKayGretchen McKay

      I have yet to have the privilege and pleasure of meeting him 1:1, but he's teamed up with a great mentor who has done well his first year. I hope to meet him soon!

      Reply
  6. Susan Montgomery

    Dr. McKay,
    As a Mother of a Son who played 4 years of football at McDaniel and graduated 2 years ago, I can say that I saw first hand how hard these student athletes worked. Even though they didn't get a lot of reward in the win loss department, they fought hard and got up every day (at 5:30 AM!!) to do it all over again. In addition to a great college education, these kids have learned a lot about life and how even when things don't go your way, you never give up. Thank you for your support and recognition of these hard working student athletes.

    Reply
    1. Gretchen McKayGretchen McKay

      You are very welcome. I am coming up on a year in this position, and as much as I am told I am helping the students, they have taught me a lot as well. They are a very dedicated group and I'm privileged to be in a position to observe it. Thanks for commenting! I wrote a post today that continues on the concepts of grit and resilience.

      Reply
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