Wednesday, July 23, 2014

16 Pioneers Named Academic All-Conference

Sixteen Pioneer football players were named Academic All-Conference for the 2013-14 academic year.  With a 2013 roster of 46 players, close to 35% of the team was recognized as Academic All-Conference.  The sixteen players named was also the most we've had going back at least since 2005-06, the last year for which I have records. 

To be named to the team an individual needs to maintain a minimum 3.33 GPA for the academic year and letter in their respective sport.  Pioneers who received recognition are:

Jacob Beecher - So -Biological Chemistry
Jayson Campos - Sr - Political Science
Andrew Clark - Sr - Computer Science
Clayton Desjardin - Jr - Biology
Colton Feller - Sr - General Science-Biology
Eddie Guen-Murray - Jr - Biological Chemistry
Seth Gustafson - Sr - Psychology
Seth Howard - Sr- Psychology
Kevin Hwang - Sr- Economics
Morgan Kinsinger - Sr - Economics
Brogan McWilliams - So - Biological Chemistry
Matt Medrano - Fy - Undeclared
Will Rebelsky - Fy - Chemistry and Mathematics
Quinn Rosenthal - Sr - History and French
Greg Ruzich - So - Biological Chemistry
David Ternes - Jr - Economics

Congratulations guys!  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Camp Season Comes to and End

The summer camp and recruiting circuit has come to an end for our coaching staff, and we are grateful to be home!

Between Coach Martinez, Coach Plato, and myself we visited six different camps or clinics or showcases.  In order: South Florida Select, Chicagoland Showcase, David Shaw Camp at Stanford University, Washington University Camp, Iowa State Friday Night Lights, and New England Elite.  We traveled close to 11,000 miles and saw roughly 4,000 campers.

A few of the highlights from this summer:
Walking the beach in Boca Raton after a long flight to Florida.

Meeting up with former All-Conference Pioneers Ryan Fletcher '11 and Robert Seer '12 in Chicago.  We also had dinner with 2012 graduates Matt John (DL) and Jimmy Borrasso (QB). 

The John Elway mural in the Stanford football offices, and staying with All-Conference punter Graham Fisher '16 and his family in Palo Alto.

Lobster roll, Big Papi at the plate, and watching a game at Fenway Park with former All-Conference QB Sean Pfalzer '07.

Back home in time for homemade ice cream (great grandma Pedersen's recipe) and the parade on 4th of July.

It's been a busy June, but we've met a ton of very good recruits and re-connected with some great Pioneers who are doing very well.  I'm looking forward to a trip home to Colorado next week, then back to Grinnell and ready to roll!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Two Pioneers Named to Dean's List

Jacob Beecher '16 celebrates a special teams touchdown.
Two Pioneers were named to the Dean's List following the spring 2014 semester.  Junior defensive back and two-sport athlete (baseball) Jacob Beecher, a Biological Chemistry major was named to the Dean's List for the second time.  Beecher was also named academic all-conference after his first-year, and will again this year when that is announced by the Midwest Conference. 

Ibuki Ogasawara '17 learning the finer points of the game from Jake O'Polka '15.

Ogasawara, a sophomore out of Takazeki, Japan, joined the team in the off-season and was also named to the Dean's List for the first time.  Ogasawara had an outstanding non-traditonal season this spring and should be a great addition to the team.

Two Pioneers were named to the Dean's List after the Fall Semester, Beecher and Seth Howard.  This spring, three other Pioneers, Colton Feller, Seth Gustafson, and Quinn Rosenthal, received the necessary GPA to qualify for the Dean's List, but were not recognized.  All three were in their final semester at Grinnell and didn't need to take the necessary 16 credits to be eligible for the award.  Even without the official recognition, these three deserve congratulations on a job well done.

Starting with the academic year of 2012-13, the Midwest Conference began naming an Academic All-Conference team only once per year, releasing it after all sports have completed.  That list should be released soon, and the Pioneers stand to do well. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Former Pioneer Morgan Kinsinger Featured in Senior Edition of Scarlet & Black

Kinsinger clears the way on a screen pass.
Recent graduate Morgan Kinsinger '14 was featured in the Senior Edition of the Scarlet & Black.  I couldn't find an online version, but the story follows:

Kinsinger Touches Down in London

            As an offensive lineman and team captain, Morgan Kinsinger has been overwhelmingly shaped by his football experience at Grinnell.  His role on the team has extended beyond the playing field to help build his academic and social lives, and has given him access to opportunities that allowed him to explore locations beyond his native Iowa.
            Kinsinger say s that football initially helped him find a place at Grinnell by introducing him to a group of people with whom he knew he shared in interest.  Despite this commonality, Kinsinger says, the team is a cross-section of Grinnell, which includes a range of students as diverse as the College itself.  This social support group helped mediate Kinsinger’s doubts about fitting in at Grinnell and a difficult first few months at college, during which he struggled to leave his social comfort zone.
            “Grinnell’s definitely given me a chance to kind of get out of my shell and develop a friend network, and it’s given me the ability to articulate myself more clearly, and I’m dong projects and research now that I never would have dreamed I’d be able to do, especially coming from just a small town in Iowa,” Kinsinger said.  “I wasn’t sure if I felt like I belonged at first, but then I guess as I grew and as I became more accustomed to Grinnell and the culture I really felt like I belonged.  It’s been an exciting transition, to come to be where I am today.”
            His inauspicious beginnings didn’t prevent Kinsinger from becoming the captain of the team in his third and fourth years, a leadership role he says is especially significant because he was elected by his teammates.
            After graduating, Kinsnger is keeping his options open but plans to explore banking opportunities in the Midwest.  He says that, reflecting back on his time at Grinnell, both the team’s and his own achievements have exceeded the expectations he had at the beginning of his first year.
            “I think football kind of exceeded my expectations in that I guess I just didn’t expect very much out of myself and out of the team, and we’ve been able to do a lot more than other teams have done,” Kinsinger said.  “And I was able to get a lot of playing time and experience the college sport.  It was a lot of fun.”
            Playing on the football team has also allowed Kinsinger to make connections with alumni that helped him to broaden his horizons.  As a senior, financial support by football alumni has allowed him to play with other division three football players at all-star games in Virginia and Mexico, where he also did community service work.
            His alumni connections made through the team also secured him a summer research opportunity with an alum and professor at the London Business School, where he built on his academic work as an economics major by participating in financial economic research online, working remotely from his home in Iowa.  Kinsinger says that this personal guidance helped him to explore his career options.  Ultimately, Kinsinger says, his time on the team allowed him to experience many of the new things he hoped to get out of Grinnell.  His time at college has been characterized by the exploration of new places, which was largely made possible by his friends and mentors. 
            “I just wanted to . . . experience something that would let me see the world, more than just what Iowa has shown me, and granted Grinnell is in Iowa, I’ve been able to do a ton of stuff that I wouldn’t have otherwise done.  So the way that it’s kind of exceeded my expectations is that I have been able to travel a lot and see a lot through friends that I have here,” Kinsinger said.  “You know, I’ve played football in Mexico, and then I also got to visit friends in Aspen and go skiing over winter break and I went out to Hawaii to visit another college fiend, so it’s been really a neat experience to have just these places to go and these friends that are willing to take you in, in the Grinnellian spirit.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Defensive Coordinator Jason Martinez at the Careers in Sports Forum

Jason Martinez drawing it up!
While former Pioneer Abby Jaeger '14 was busy learning at the NCAA Careers in Sports Forum, Pioneer Football defensive coordinator Jason Martinez served as a facilitator

Martinez has just completed his fourth year as an assistant coach at Grinnell College.  Under his tutelage the Pioneer Black Shirt Defense has seen a dramatic transformation, into one of the more aggressive and feared units in the Midwest Conference.  This past season the Pioneers finished second overall in both interceptions (18) and total takeaways (29).  Martinez has also helped physically transform many athletes from across the department as the head strength and conditioning coach.

The Careers in Sports Forum was a nice opportunity for Jason to have an impact on the development of student-athletes across the country, and to learn from them as well. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Great Opportunity for Former Pioneer Abby Jaeger

Former Pioneer soccer and basketball player Abby Jaeger '14 is participating in the NCAA Careers in Sports Forum in Indianapolis.  This looks to be a great opportunity for Jaeger, as she explores her post-Grinnell options. 

Good luck Abby!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Happy Birthday Jordan!

During my time as a student-athlete at Grinnell College I learned so much in the classroom and through my athletic pursuits.  Just as importantly though, I learned from my everyday interactions with people from across the continent and across the globe.  That is what makes Grinnell unique, a special place in the heart of the midwest that brings together people and cultures from across the world in a safe but challenging environment.

Of all the things I learned, and of all the people I met, I am most thankful to have met the beautiful and talented Jordan Esbrook '01.  Having just celebrated our 10th anniversary together last week, we now celebrate her birthday.  Great student, outstanding attorney, wonderful wife and mother, and loyal friend, what more could you ask for?!

Happy Birthday Jordan!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Pioneer Track Star Featured

Ajinjeru '14 breaking the school record for the indoor 400

Pioneer track and field star Christine Ajinjeru '14 was recently featured in a story on the Midwest Conference web site.  Ajinjeru concluded a fine career by qualifying for the Division III Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Delaware, OH.  Next fall she will be heading to Knoxville, TN for a joint PhD program with the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge Institute, where she has previously interned.

Congratulations Christine!  Good Luck!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Go Out and Vote!

Update: He won!  Congrats to Charles Blake '05, new State Representative for District 36 in Arkansas.  Go get 'em Chuck!

A message from former Pioneer outside linebacker turned politician, "Go out and Vote tom(orrow). It's important, because we are going to win this the right way. With Dignity, Integrity, and Class. Go Vote for Charles Blake for State Representative 36."

Charles Blake '05 of Little Rock, AR was a Political Science major and outside linebacker for the Pioneers.  The Pioneers finished 6-4 in 2004, Blake's senior season, including signature wins over Ripon College and Carroll University.  It's great to see "Chuck" giving back to his hometown.  Good luck tomorrow!!  GC Pride.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Six Pioneers Named to the Hampshire Society

Six senior Pioneers were named to the National Football Foundations Hampshire Society.  Andrew Clark, Colton Feller, Seth Gustafson, Seth Howard, Kevin Hwang, and Quinn Rosenthal all received the honor from the NFF.

Six Pioneers being named to the Hampshire Society in one year is a new high for the program.  Following the 2011 season four Pioneers received the honor: Jimmy Borrasso, Logan Granera, Chris Jarmon, and Brian Westerlind.

Learn more about the Hampshire Society here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Grinnell Student Featured on MSNBC

Grinnell senior Ope Awe was featured on MSNBC's Women of 2014 Series.  Read the article about Ope on Grinnell College's home page, but also read about her on the MSNBC page.  Besides her role in the Student Government Association at Grinnell, Ope also started a student group called Enthusiasm to help support the varsity athletic teams.  Thanks for all your efforts Ope and congratulations on getting such national recognition!  You deserve it!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lyle Bauman

The Grinnell College Pioneer football team would like to extend a large thank you to the entire Bauman family.  It has been a tough winter for the Bauman's, with the passing of two great people.  Today, Tuesday March 18th, we lost long-time College employee Lyle Bauman.  Everybody who met Lyle, whether student/staff/faculty/parent/visitor/etc immediately made a friend, and somebody that would lend a hand at a moment's notice, no questions asked.  There are no words to express our gratitude for the impact Lyle had on those around him, and no words to express the loss our community has suffered.  We thank you Lyle, and we thank the Bauman family, and we hope for peace for all of you.

This past December the Pioneers awarded the first annual Lyle Bauman Service Award to Seth Gustafson '14.  We are proud of Seth for his growth on and off the field, and grateful for what he gave to the team and to the campus, but it will be hard for Seth, and for the future recipients of the award, to live up to the example set by Lyle.  What a great man for all Pioneers to model themselves after.

Thank you one final time Lyle, for everything.

The Pioneers

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Words of Wisdom From an All-Time Great

Besides Michael Sam, the biggest NFL related story of the off-season has been the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin story.  I have not read the Well's Report and will not weigh in on who was right or wrong in the situation.  I was not there and I don't have nearly enough information.  What I will say is this, there is no place for bullying in our society.  Whether it's in the classroom, the locker room, or the workplace, it is a destructive force that can do a lifetime of damage.

As part of coaching staffs of more than one sport at Grinnell College I understand that we must operate under the guidelines of our department and our school.  We must also operate within the rules and guidelines of the NCAA.  One thing that has been made clear is that there is no room for hazing rituals or bullying within intercollegiate athletics.  I don't believe Grinnell ever had severe hazing rituals before I was here, and I thought the environment was healthy while I played here.  That being said, I have been very clear of my expectations for our team, and to my knowledge this type of behavior is not a problem.

When the Incognito-Martin story broke I was struck by some of the reactions in the media.  The reactions were understandably varied, given the lack of information.  The thing I have a hard time with is some major media outlets coming down so hard on hazing and bullying in high schools and colleges while regularly promoting it each NFL pre-season.  I understand there are many differences, from the age and maturity of the participants, to the amount of money NFL players are paid, but I still believe we should be sending a consistent message about hazing and bullying.

In that light, I've come across an outstanding article by former NFL offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst, Mark Schlereth.  I may be biased because I enjoyed watching him help clear the way for Terrel Davis and back to back Super Bowl wins for the Denver Broncos, but I believe Schlereth is on point with his take.

Please read and enjoy.  I know the 2014 Pioneers will be reading this during our pre-season meetings this fall.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Michael Sam and Openly Gay Football Players

As I got to my office tonight to make my Sunday night recruiting calls, I started by logging into my email and Twitter, as always, just to get caught up and to make a plan for the evening. Tonight, the talk on Twitter has caused me to change my plans.

Many of you have seen by now, or will see by the morning, that Michael Sam, the all-american and SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri has announced that he is gay.  The announcement comes weeks prior to the NFL combine and about two months before the draft.  Many have given their thoughts about whether this will or won't effect his draft status, but that is not of much concern to me.  Sam's announcement does bring up an important discussion, and one that is happening with much greater frequency.

This is an issue that has come to light several times recently.  In mid-January, NFL Films released a special about Jerry Smith, the late tight end that played for the Washington Redskins from the mid-60's through the late '70's.  Smith had played his entire career without coming out to his teammates, or to anyone in the NFL.  Also in late January, Conner Mertens, a member of the Willammette College football team came out publicly as bisexual.  One article I read quotes as saying Mertens is the first college football player to come out publicly while still playing.

Here at Grinnell we are part of an accepting environment.  Our College tries to foster an environment where students, faculty and staff all learn from each other, and often times just as much is learned outside the classroom as in it.  We have tried to create an environment full of diversity of all kinds, and this most certainly includes a diversity of sexual orientations.  With students from across the globe we obviously have students with a wide variety of beliefs entering Grinnell.  Just as with any issue, we do not have 100% agreement, but we don't side-step difficult issues, we tackle them head on in a respectful manner.  As members of other student-groups on campus, football players have helped bring in renowned speakers to address sexism and harassment of women in athletics (Katie Hnida, former Colorado Buffalo and New Mexico University) and to address what it's like to be a gay football player (Esera Tuaolo, former NFL player who came out after retiring from the sport).  Both talks were well attended across campus, but I believe they had a profound affect within our team.  

I guess what I'm trying to say in all of this is that I commend both Michael Sam and Conner Mertens in their announcements, and I wish for Smith that he had lived at a time when he could have been more comfortable with who he was, but none of these guys are unique.  They're not outliers.  I have been associated with Grinnell College Football since 1998, and I have not played with or coached an openly gay player (I have been told there was at least one in the mid-90's).  However, I'm sure I played alongside more than one gay teammate during my time.  I'm also sure that I have coached, and am currently coaching, student-athletes who are gay (as an assistant coach for the track and field team, I know I am coaching several openly gay student-athletes).  I don't expect that a gay student-athlete would have to come out to me, just as I don't expect that a straight student-athlete would have to tell me who he is dating.  But I certainly hope he would feel comfortable in telling me if he wanted to, just as I know a straight student-athlete would.  I hope that I have the trust of my players, and that they trust their teammates enough, that it wouldn't be a big deal.  I hope that coming out to me wouldn't feel like a confession or an admission, that would have potential ramifications, but rather that it would just come up as part of everyday conversation.  We pride ourselves in fielding a team of 50 different guys with 50 different stories, and this would just be one more story.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Former Pioneer Gets His Big Break

Former linebacker Marquis Bradley '11 may have gotten his big break during the Super Bowl last Sunday.

Bradley, who was a two-time all-conference linebacker, spent one season coaching for the Pioneers.  He has since moved back to his hometown of Wichita, KS, where he has started a personal training business L.I.T.E. 180, as well as a motivational speaking company Spotlight Motivation.

Marquis has many pursuits, but this past weekend he added one more, acting.  Bradley was featured in MindFire Academy's commercial that aired regionally during the Super Bowl.  MindFire Academy is a digital audio and video company specializing in 3D animation, game design, and motion-capture technology.

I'm not sure if Marquis has a future in acting, you be the judge:

Friday, January 31, 2014

Seth Gustafson Featured in Prominent Educational Journal

Senior defensive back and captain Seth Gustafson recently completed a successful football career in which he started for all four years and recorded five interceptions and 15 passes defended.  Those numbers likely would have been higher, but as our best cover corner teams rarely challenged him. 

Not only was Seth successful on the field, but he's been tremendous in the classroom as well.  This past fall was Seth's third in a row with a 4.0 gpa while majoring in Psychology.  He's in line to be named academic all-conference for the third year in a row (at the time, football players were not eligible for the award as first-years).  During the summer before his senior year, Seth completed a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) with one of his advisors, and the summer before that he worked at Rosecrance, a non-profit mental health facility in his hometown of Rockford, IL.  Because of his work at Rosecrance, Seth was recently featured in the Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research

Nice work Seth!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Liberal Arts and Your Future

As we are finishing up January and approaching February, our senior Pioneers are likely getting anxious about what comes next.  Some already have plans in place, some only vague ideas, but all are likely feeling some anxiety about the future.

Likewise, the guys we're recruiting, the seniors in high school, are probably experiencing some of the same things.  They've all been getting recruited heavily by us, and schools like us, but many are also being recruited by larger state schools of all levels.  They're about to make a decision that will have an incredible impact on their future.

The good news is, no matter what you studied or are interested in studying, and no matter what the state of the current economy, you are better off being at Grinnell College than anywhere else!  For years we've stressed that the tools you develop from your first day at Grinnell will prepare you for any endeavor, and that they will give you a better chance for success than your peers.  Couple the world class liberal arts education with your experiences as a member of the Pioneer Football team, and you've set yourself up for big things!

Recently there have been several articles highlighting these very advantages.  For all anxious seniors, whether in high school or college, these articles should remind you of the advantages of Grinnell, and help put your mind at ease. 


First is a quick news story that was played on NPR and other national media outlets: Who Says Liberal Arts Majors Can't Make a Good Living?

Following up on this is a more in depth piece from Inside Higher Ed: Liberal Arts Grads Win Long Term.

And finally, if you're wondering where Grinnell fits in all of this, it's great to know the teaching at Grinnell is so well respected: Best Undergraduate Teaching.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wigs for Kids

It happens every fall, thousands of college seniors play their final football game and realize their playing careers are over.  They all react differently, but often times their are some significant changes in body type, some let themselves go a little, but many decide it's time to cut some of the weight they've worked so hard to gain. 

One senior on this year's team, linebacker Colton Feller, decided to make a similar change, and to cut some of what he's gained over the past four years.  A Clay Mathews clone at inside linebacker for the past four years, Colton cut his hair over the winter break, donating 15 inches (!!) to Wigs for Kids. 

Great call Colton, thanks for the donation!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Happy Birthday Frances Belle!

Opening presents from Grandma Lisa and Grandpa and Grandma P.
On a cloudy Friday night in January 2009, with snow on the way, my nine-months pregnant wife and I decided to go out to the movies.  We watched a true tear-jerker, Marley and Me.  The movie was nice, but we were out late and I was looking forward to sleeping in the next morning.

It was not to be.

Jordan woke me up with an aggressive shake around 6:00 AM the next morning.  "I think I'm having contractions," she said.  I asked what I needed to do, and we agreed that this was just the beginning of a long process, so some more rest would be a good idea.  A short hour later and I was being shaken again.  Time to get up.

I rolled downstairs to find that the snow had arrived, about six inches worth, and still falling.  I dug us out and we loaded the car for Des Moines.  The roads weren't the best, but we made the slow trip in about two hours. 
It took plenty of shoveling to get out that morning
The contractions were still mild (if there is such a thing) and far apart, so we spent a quiet afternoon at a co-workers house.  We finally went to Methodist Hospital later in the evening.  Jordan labored throughout the night, and around 3:00 AM January 11th, our baby girl was born.  Frances Belle Pedersen, a whopping 9 pounds and 3 ounces, took her time coming out but has been in a hurry ever since. 
Taking a well-deserved nap
As first-time parents, neither Jordan nor I slept well in the hospital that night.  When we did wake up we realized that the temperature had bottomed out after the snow.  With a temperature around -10 degrees, we decided an extra day in the hospital would be nice.  I spent that first night with a swaddled baby girl in my lap, watching Louisville vs Notre Dame (Louisville won in OT), and telling her everything I knew about basketball.  It was the first of many lessons that she didn't appear to be listening to, but that hopefully sank in somehow. 
Proud Parents

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Meixler's 203 Receiving Yards in One Game is 5th All-Time at Grinnell

During the Pioneers 24-21 victory over the Lawrence Vikings, Jake Meixler caught ten passes for 203 yards and a touchdown.  His 203 receiving yards were good for fifth-most in a single game in Pioneer Football history.

Knocked off the top-5 list was David Snider '99, who recorded 196 yards receiving 9-25-98 against Lake Forest.  Snider should not feel bad, as he still has the third best single-game total (210 yards vs St. Norbert 10-24-98) and the best single-game total of 225 yards against Knox College the very next week.  Richard Wemer '98 rounds out the top five at number two, with 218 yards 9-20-97 against Beloit College.  Also knocking on the door of the top five was Logan Granera '12, who had 195 yards 9-18-10 against Ripon College. 

The entire list of Pioneer Football records can be seen here.  Be sure to check back regularly this winter, as the list will continually be updated with video.