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The Making of a Champion

The Making of a Champion


[CHEERING] We’ve been able to recruit and
attract quality student athletes here to UW Whitewater
that have embraced the challenge and the competition
that it takes to be successful in our football program. They want guys who are going to
come in and work hard, and not think that anything’s going
to be given to them. Football season just isn’t four
months or four weeks out of the year. It’s a commitment that’s
year-long, and that’s how you’re going to prepare,
because if it was easy, everybody would be doing it. Every coach, and every position,
they strive for perfection. They say, every day,
get better today. Let’s get better today. It’s about the little things. You do those little things that
other teams don’t do, and you win championships. They do a good job by telling
us what we do wrong, but in the same sense, telling
us how to get better. And if you are able to
play at the college level, you will play. We’re always hungry. I don’t think we’re ever
completely satisfied. Yep, winning the National
Championship is very satisfying. But yet, your goals are always
a little bit farther than you can reach. The moment we start counting
our victories and start counting our consecutive
wins is the moment that we get beat. And there’s always somebody
out there that wants to beat us. I always wanted to be a Warhawk,
I just didn’t know how I was going to get there. My dad, he ended up moving me to
my grandparents because we were financially unstable
and stuff. This is the neighborhood
I grew up in since the sixth grade. It’s kind of a big transition. Coming from Chicago and growing
up without your real parents, you lose the goodness
of life, because you see other kids’ parents picking them
up from practice. I was the shortest, chubbiest,
and that’s where it got a little tougher. Grades started slipping,
because it was a new environment, coming from
minority to Caucasian was just a bit flip. I had to wake up and say, this
is what you need to do. It was either success
or be left behind. It really becomes a family,
between workouts and practice. Our routine really is no
different, whether it was for the National championship
game, or whether it was for game one. That routine that we use in
pregame is pretty consistent. Now that guy is an eligible
receiver, right? What you’re trying to do,
hopefully, as a coach, is to reduce as much anxiety that
there might be for a player when they’re in that third and
short, or they’re in that fourth and goal situation. That they know we’ve practiced
this over and over again. This isn’t a big deal. Each position coach gets an
opportunity to call out one or two players that have really
exemplified that philosophy or that attitude of pounding
the rock. And it’s become very symbolic. Here we go, pound the
rock on three. One, two, three. Pound the rock! Good job. [? Hawks ?] on three,
one, two, three. [? Hawks ?] Are you going to do the things
necessary in the weight room? Are you going to do the things
necessary in the classroom to prepare yourself? It’s more than just
practicing. You’ve got to be good off the
field too, in the classroom, to be good on the field. I really feel that Division
Three is the purest sense of the sport. The focus is on the student
first and the athlete second. We want good young men who are
conscientious students and who are also good players. They keep on us about getting
our school work done. They make sure that each
and every person goes to class every day. I think our coaches aren’t
just coaches, they are teacher, mentor, you
know, parent. I think that’s because they care
a lot about us, and they know that this might not
be a springboard to the NFL or anything. This is a place to get an
education, to set you up for your future career. You have guys who are extremely passionate about the game. They love the game. They’re not getting paid. School comes first and all,
but I don’t think I’d have that motivation, if I didn’t
have the game. I love the game. I’ve just gotten involved with
this community, and it just became my home. I feel like there are a million
hands on my back, pushing me in the right
direction to reach all my goals. Doctor [? Polinksky ?] and
Chancellor Telfer have provided great leadership, that
if we’re are going to have athletics on our campus,
we believe in excellence. We aspire to have grade-point
averages that are better than the general student body
population, and we want to graduate at a higher level than
the general student body population. We have to eliminate the
distractions, and the distractions are the things that
break that other part of the routine that we’ve been so
used to through the other 14 games of the season, yet at
the same time, letting our players enjoy the experience
of what a trip to Salem is all about. Instead of just focusing on
football, football, football, and there are children
looking up to us. With their little blue stockings
all hung in a row. These stockings– [UNINTELLIGIBLE] we also
answer a lot of trivia questions about Wisconsin,
Virginia, and we trade it back and forth, which college teams
are better and professional teams, it was a good time. When we were leaving, a lot of
the kids pulled out a pen and paper, and they wanted to get
our autographs, so that was pretty cool. And they got the cheerleaders,
too. Remarkable, what you all are accomplishing, year after year. When you get there, you’ve got
banquets for the Gagliardi Trophy presentation, and then
the Spotlight on Champions. Our coaches try and make sure
that we’re focused on the task at hand, and that’s
winning that game. We’re all nervous, because
we got on ESPN 2 this year, prime time. And we walk into the locker
room, we’re all familiar with it because we’ve been there in
years past. A big locker, and you’re sitting there, you’re
looking around, you’re excited, you’re getting
the butterflies out. My mindset was to get the job
done, and to leave everything on the field. Coaches say that a lot. Man out, if it’s six deep,
then we’re here. Last year, I only came in on
third downs, and was expected to get the job done then, but
this was sort of a bigger role for me to put my feet in. But it’s something you’ve
prepared for. It’s not something that you
can all of the sudden get somebody ready for in
four or five days. I was in the locker before the
game, listening to my music, because that’s what
gets me going. I felt like I was going to be
a big part of this game. It’s simple. Fast, physical, smart,
Warhawk football. 60 minutes. Look the guy next to
you in the eye. You dig down, as deep as
you’ve ever dug before. You [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. 60 minutes, you’re National
Champions. [CHEERING] Let’s go Hawks! [CHEERING] We knew Mount Union was a
very good defense, and statistically, we’re ranked
number one in almost every single category. That first series, I think
we got some of our jitters out of us. We didn’t think that we were
really getting the sort of respect that we deserved. We had high spirits the
whole game, even though it was close. I refer to it with people
as sort of a fistfight in a phone booth. I knew we were close to getting
into field goal range, and the coach asked me, he
was like, do you think you can make it? And I said, Yeah. I was pretty nervous going out
there, because I knew it was one of the longer ones, and
it was critical, because it was still 0-0. We got up 10 points, and right
with about five minutes to go, I felt kind of good. But then two minutes
later, they score. And now it’s a three point
game, again, and you just didn’t know what was
going to happen. You’re meeting with your
offensive coaches, going over stuff, and you hear their
sidelines going crazy. You look, and they’re scoring. That’s, you know, you just bite
the bullet, and that’s what you put on all the hard
work for, is a close game, and a championship game. You’re going to go out
there, and drag the ball down on the defense. We always have confidence, and
we’ve been through some of those battles in the past, so
I never really feel like our guys are getting rattled. I was down, kind of by myself,
on my knee, just looking, just watching, just hoping, one more
series, our defense can do it, I know they can. [CHEERING] [CHEERING INCREASES] We did it! To be able to complete the whole
season undefeated, and get the end result, it’s
a phenomenal feeling. If it’s your last year you
realize all the hard work you’ve put in, the sacrifices
you’ve made, blood, sweat, and tears. And you look around, and you see
other guys that were there experiencing the same feeling,
and it’s just nuts. You want to celebrate
that with others. You get down there to the field
as fast as possible, and hug the players, and
hug the coaches. The Most Outstanding Player of
the 2011 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl is Loussaint Minett. Getting an MVP is probably the
best thing next to peanut butter and jelly. And I’ve been through a lot of
things in my life, and all the success is kind of emotional,
as well as gratifying. Whatever background you come
from, you can be successful. When life gets hard, concentrate
on the little things in life. Surviving four years of college football is tough to do. And if you can do that, you’re
going to get more out of it than a couple of championship
rings. You’re going to get lifelong
lessons that no other person will have besides you. I think I’ve come a long
way in terms of where I want to be in life. Football really saved my life.

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