There's something new to smile about when I wake up in the morning

I originally wrote this down to try and capture the emotion I felt the day after Drake played Iowa State in football. I am sharing it here because my time as a student athlete throughout my life and at Drake gave me guidance and structure and allowed me to be where I am at in life and doing what I am doing. I am just very appreciative of football and how it has given me a passion and drive to do more, everyday.

After a hearty meal at jethros this morning, I was getting gas at the kum & go right off of Drake’s campus, proudly sporting my Drake football sweatshirt pumping the sweet fuel into my car. I heard the woman across the pump from me say “hey did you play football at drake?” It really isn’t surprising and It’s just a single moment, but I feel like that question and her eagerness to connect with us is something that never happened to me as a Drake football player or alum before yesterday. 

The entirety of the day was one of the best sports experiences of my life. Waking up to the sound of rain beating the side of my place before 6am made it hard to get excited for the day. The journey up to Ames through a cold monsoon made the likelihood of making it through a whole game very very slim. Regardless, spending time with my friends that I haven’t seen much since graduation made the cold precipitation completely irrelevant. After all of us that went through years of Drake football, we all shared the collective perspective that even just having the opportunity to step into that stadium and cheer for our alma mater was such an incredible experience. After getting a little sauced up to help create a mental poncho, we dodged mud and slush filled puddles to make our way into the stadium. I will never forget the feeling of walking in, and seeing my guys standing on that field. Of course everyone knows that while the score didn’t favor us, it was an moment that confirmed those that have gone through the program & those who are closely tied have known all along, and illuminated to those that didn’t understand, that Drake football is football. Our guys get up early for long days and fight through injuries specifically for the love of the game of football. 

Seeing the response online, at the game, and in the state of Iowa has given me a new sense of pride as a former Drake football player. The reality is, none of us played for recognition or for the allure of having widespread support, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to have ‘oh Drake that’s nice, it’s D3 right?’ change to ‘oh hey you played at Drake that’s awesome’. 

I think the best part is the recognition really doesn’t matter to any of us. The real win for us was to just be in those stands, high fiving former players that I never overlapped with as if we had been friends all our lives. Seeing the just absolute pure happiness in the fifth years I played with for 4 years eyes right after thanking the fans for the last time. Being able to share a little bit about what makes Drake football so special to us, with everyone else, was awesome to be a part of. 

While it would have been so fun to be out on the field yesterday with all of my former teammates, it was equally enjoyable for me to be in the stands and just feel the emotions of the day and see the result of the house that we all helped build. The reality is Drake Football is football because we played the same game we grew up playing. There isn’t the bottom line or an angry hoard of observation advocates that dictate the budget, and in turn influence the decisions made from the top down. For us, yesterday just gave us another thing to smile about when we wake up; but for most, yesterday was an opportunity to start noticing how special Drake football is. And I think that that is pretty cool.

It was definitely a day that would have made it into Paul Morrison’s Drake football story.