Pride and poise: my Hopkins football story

By BRANDON WOLFE | October 11, 2018

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COURTESTY OF BEN TISCHLER Brandon Wolfe now serves as a student assistant for the football team after a career-ending concussion.

I’m going to make a statement that may seem bold, but to those that have had the privilege of being a part of it know that it rings true: There is nothing in this world that compares to Hopkins football. 

My freshman year here, I wrote a piece on just how much I was enjoying my time being a part of the Blue Jay football team. Almost two years removed from that publication, a lot has changed.

One thing has stayed constant over those two years, however, and that’s my appreciation of and respect for this program. 

A little over a year ago, I sustained what would prove to be my final football-related injury in the form of a third documented concussion. I was crushed because I had already been experiencing some issues stemming from head injuries that I won’t expand on here and I knew that my family and my doctors would be against the idea of me ever suiting up again. Having to go to Coach Margraff and tell him that I could no longer play remains to this day as one of the most heart-breaking moments in my 21 years of life. Not because of anything that went wrong, but because of the amount of understanding and care he expressed when he told me that he understood.

I was not an elite player by any stretch of the imagination, and I knew that my role on the team in that capacity would likely never amount more than a rotation player. This is nothing on the coaching staff but solely on the sheer amount of talent that I was surrounded by in the form of my teammates. 

When I hung up the cleats, I took some time to myself to focus on school and life outside of football, but the void that a lack of football had created in me was permeable, and so I began to badger one of my former coaches about trying to help out in any capacity. At this point, I was willing to tie guys’ shoes just to be back with the team.

Eventually, I was able to get a role as a cameraman during spring practice. I was hesitant to do much else besides this, as I was grateful just to help out the program in any capacity, but thankfully, Luke McFadden and Zack Toussaint noticed the itch that I had to do more and encouraged me to speak to the coaches about expanding my responsibilities.

This leads me to the present day, where I serve as a student assistant to the team and am a man of many hats in my current position. 

Instead of pacing the sidelines clad in a helmet and shoulder pads, I wear a polo shirt and a headset to communicate with coaches in the press box. Rather than spending hours a week working on blocking techniques and working to develop a better pass set, I now spend that time working on drills with the running backs, breaking down film with the coaching staff and drawing up scout plays to use against our starting defense. 

There’s something that changes in you when you’re no longer a player. Rather than worrying about where my position lays on the depth chart or how I am performing during scout team, I can focus on everyone else on the team and focus on watching them excel and progress throughout the year. You notice a lot more when you expand your vision beyond yourself, and it is an incredibly rewarding experience to be able to impart my limited wisdom onto the younger generation of Blue Jays and see it come to fruition and see them emerge as better players because of it.

I am a small part of something much greater than myself, but I think you’d find it hard to find somebody who enjoys what they do more than me. Whether it’s sprinting down the field and almost knocking over referees and teammates alike, watching our guys make big plays or going airborne after almost every touchdown to celebrate with my team in a slightly pathetic showing of my very limited vertical jump, I love every second of it, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

If I would take the time to thank everyone that has allowed me this opportunity, I would go way beyond my word limit for this article, but I would be remiss to not recognize at least a few people. I, of course, must recognize Coach Margraff, who has been incredibly supportive of me remaining active in the program and has continually expressed his appreciation for what limited help I can provide to the coaching staff. Joel Jorgensen was the first to approach me about me returning and campaigned for me to be more active on the team. Greg Chimera has allowed me to expand my role on the offense under his leadership, and I’m incredibly grateful to Tim Sternfeld and Cory Pietrzyk for allowing me to learn under them, becoming two great friends in the process.

I don’t know what the future will hold for me in this new role, but I do know that I will continue to enjoy every second that I am able to spend in this program and with this group of staff and players. Few people get to experience the kind of joy that comes with being a part of the Blue Jay football family, and I’m thankful every day for being able to contribute to its greatness.

Pride and poise!

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