I Love This Team

Honestly, I don’t know where some of these entries will lead when I pose the question to the subject, “Are you interested in writing an entry for Behind the Shield?  I have this idea…”

Most times our student-athletes are willing and trusting enough to let me help share their story.

Josiah Kotte arrived on campus three years ago and joined the football team. He’s thrived in the Engineering program and on the field where he earned post-season honors from the GPAC and also from the NAIA as a scholar-athlete and Academic All-District honors from CoSIDA.

And last spring he tore up his knee.

The knee is repaired and Josiah is on a recovery plan, but, this season has taken a significantly different look as Josiah has traded his helmet for a headset and is a student-coach.

After you read this I think you’ll realize that any other response would have been out of character for the Idaho native.

Often we say, it’s just a game, and, it is.  But it’s also something we love to be a part of, are invested in, and feel obligated to see through to a finish and that message comes through in Josiah’s piece. 

So, next time you see someone recovering from a significant injury, think about how this one athlete approached his recovery and has met the unexpected with grace and courage.

mbyk

fballdoane1-44If there is one thing that I’ve learned about life, it’s that it doesn’t always go how you think it will. Had someone told me four years ago that I would be in the Northwest corner of Iowa, playing football and studying engineering, I probably would have laughed.

Had someone told me four years ago that I would be in the Northwest corner of Iowa, playing football and studying engineering, I probably would have laughed.

It’s not that I wouldn’t have thought that it would be possible, it just was not even close to what I had planned for my life. Coming out of high school, I was going to play football at the College of Idaho and major in Secondary-Education.

Some financial issues came up and that didn’t happen. Instead of taking a year off from school, I went to a local community college to pick up some general credits. At this point in my life, I was confused. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I thought my football career was over and I didn’t know what I wanted to study.

Fortunately, I had some wise counsel in my life.

Fortunately, I had some wise counsel in my life.

I went through the recruiting process again.

Oddly enough, the only two schools that expressed interest were Dordt and the school down the road. I took that as a sign that I was supposed to be in Northwest Iowa for a reason. I came out for a visit and from the first day I stepped on campus, I felt that Dordt was the place to be. I went back home and through deep thought, prayer and consideration, I decided to transfer to Dordt.

I’ve always been a nerd. I’ve been interested in math and science since a child. With all the positive reviews of Dordt’s engineering program, I decided to give it a shot. That has proved to be one of the best decisions of my life.

I’ve met some of my best friends in the program and the professors are nothing short of amazing. I also have an excitement to be an engineer that I never had about teaching.

This isn’t to say that the whole situation was rainbows and unicorns. It’s tough leaving family, friends and everything familiar to go to a place with no connection and no support system.

I’m so glad I did.

From the ruins of my old plans arose a blessing that I never could have imagined and definitely didn’t deserve.

Adversity is simply a reality of life.

Adversity is simply a reality of life.

Things don’t go the way we think they will and circumstances are less than ideal. I’m a firm believer that these situations reveal our character and give us an opportunity to evaluate and better ourselves.

This past spring, I had a chance to experience this firsthand. On April 21st, I was having a great practice. It was a great feeling to be closing out spring ball so strong. And then I tore my ACL, tore my lateral meniscus and knocked a chunk of cartilage off my femoral condyle.

I didn’t know this initially, but once my MRI results came in, I knew what it meant: my senior season was gone.

I’d never had an injury in the six years of my career.

I would consider myself blessed in this regard. However, I saw plenty of teammates and opponents taken down by injuries. I always wondered how I would respond to something like this.

I had the opportunity to find out.

It is in these situations we find out what we are made of. Are my love and commitment to my teammates merely leaves on a tree, blown away by a strong wind? Or are they the roots that hold the tree steadfast when the adversity of life comes through?

What I found was that it was a choice between the two.

Feeling sorry for myself and going to a dark place was not going to help my team, it wasn’t going to change the situation, and it wasn’t going to make me feel any better. This isn’t to say that I haven’t struggled with this situation.

To work so hard for something, and then to have a freak accident take it away is devastating. Having the mental and emotional capability to play while being restrained by my physical condition has been one of the most frustrating things I’ve gone through.

Despite this, when I committed to Dordt College football, it wasn’t contingent on my physical ability. I still had a chance to make an impact and I knew that. I knew that I had to find a way to contribute to the team without being able to play.

This is my team, these are my brothers, and I will continue to give everything I have for them.

I’ve been at 6 AM workout sessions with them, I’ve lifted with them, I’ve conditioned with them, and I’ve practiced with them. They’ve become my second family, my support system, and my home away from home.

I may not be able to impact the game on the field like I used to, but I will compete fiercely and do my very best to impact the game from where I am at right now.

It is what my brothers deserve and what I promised to do.

It is what my brothers deserve and what I promised to do.

I love this team.

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