Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Friday, April 20, 2007

Athletics redefined: Football player debunks ‘jock’ myth

Athletics redefined: Football player debunks ‘jock’ myth

By Katherine Poythress
Collegian Reporter
Hillsdale Collegian, April 19, 2007

For senior Derek Nelson, a Hillsdale College football player, college is not just about training, tackles and plays. His entire life is a balancing act. His extracurricular activities are so numerous he has difficulty listing them off the top of his head: Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, Best Buddies, Big Brothers Big Sisters and treasurer for the Inter-Fraternity Council.

He said his ability to manage the scrimmage for his time is partly thanks to football.

Nelson has been playing with the Chargers since his freshman year. Just one day of an in-season football player involves approximately six hours of football-related activities like practice, watching football films and lifting.

“You only get about three hours of good, quality study time on an average day in-season,” Nelson said.

However, Hillsdale Offensive Coordinator Coach Barry Fagan said there really isn’t an off-season. Even when the team members are not practicing and playing the game, they are training.

“Football is very demanding,” Fagan said. “It’s six days a week, every week of the year.”

Fagan, Nelson’s position coach and friend, said he and the entire football coaching staff emphasize preparing their players for life.

“His involvement in the football program at Hillsdale has made him, along with his education, become a good leader,” said Kim Nelson, Derek’s mother. “It’s the friendships, the mentorship, study groups, all of it.”

But Fagan doesn’t take his game too seriously.

“We are the epitome of what college athletics should be, which is an extracurricular activity,” he said.

This attitude does not lower expectations for Hillsdale football players on the field but places higher demands than many schools on players’ academic performance.

Nelson said he and all Charger athletes went through the same application process as every Hillsdale student, meaning Nelson had to be not only a great athlete to play for the team but also a great student to enter the college.

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