Where exactly is Grinnell, Iowa? That's the same question that I asked myself heading into my junior year of high-school. This unknown (to people in the Rio Grande Valley) college in Iowa had expressed an interest because of that fact that I had a certain GPA, SAT score, and played varsity sports. Yup, they sent a letter and brochure nearly 1,500 miles via USPS just to let me know that they were interested.
Me, a potential student-athlete in college? The thought today still brings a chuckle given the sheer magnitude of such a concept. In fact, I recall half-heartedly joshing with my friends about the notion of me playing collegiate football. Why was such an idea so entertaining? In all honestly, I never really saw myself as a tremendous athlete. I wasn't the biggest, strongest, or fastest player on the team my senior year in high-school. I was decent, I earned a couple of district honors and played in the valley all-star football game, but that still doesn't explain how someone like me could go to the middle of nowhere in Iowa and play college football with a bunch of corn-fed white boys.
We still haven't answered the basic question of where is Grinnell, Iowa? If you know your US geography, Iowa is located east of Illinois and North of Missouri (see map below). The actual town of Grinnell is almost in the middle of the state. See the map for further reference.
I was convinced that there was no way that I could play collegiate football and the idea was nothing more than a joke amongst friends. Maybe because my friends and I treated it like a joke. Maybe it was because their wasn't anyone telling me that it was possible. I knew college wasn't impossible; I knew I was going to graduate and earn a degree, so why was it that playing football was so improbable?
Senior year rolls along as does the football season. I apply to a variety of schools, one of which includes Grinnell College. I was positive that I could get into to the school despite that it was categorized as a "selective" school. What many people don't realize, unless of course you are from the Midwestern part of the US, Grinnell College is a very rigorous institution that has earned a prestigious reputation during it's 150+ year existence. Sure enough, I was accepted, but I was also accepted to many other local and state colleges (UTPA, Texas A&M, TCU, etc...) I would have probably been talking about one of those schools instead today had it not been for a grant that was offered to me to visit Grinnell College. YES, THAT'S RIGHT, A GRANT! It was an all-expense paid trip to go visit the college and check things out for myself in person. The idea was awesome because I could go travel (for free) and get out of school for a couple days. Little did I know that this was going to be a trip that would change my life...
Spring was in full swing and I had a free airline ticket to Grinnell, Iowa. After checking the map to find Grinnell, Iowa, again, I was ready to go. Although, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. By this time I had read and looked over many Grinnell pamphlets, but that was not very reassuring given that those things always make things seem better than they actually are. The prevalent phrase in most of the pamphlets was "small, liberal arts college." I got the small part, but what was a "liberal art" college? The truth would keep me waiting no longer...
Nonetheless, I ventured off with a phrase in mind and a handful of pamphlets. As I arrived, I was immediately submerged into a different world. That wasn't a problem, since I had already figured that things were not going to be the same like my quiet little Mexican barrio-community of Elsa, TX. Albeit a different world, Grinnell would prove to be a world of mystery and of intrigue. The next couple days, I spent living in a dorm room with an actual Grinnell student as a prospective athlete, or "prospie." I sat in a couple classes, attended a Spring ball, and met with Head Football Coach Greg Wallace. All in all, I fell in love with Grinnell college and what it had to offer in a matter of a few days. The Grinnell college experience had taken a hold of me. Oblivious, it would keep a hold of me for the next four years. I realize that I haven't exactly mentioned in detail what were the factors that so convincingly persuaded me that Grinnell college was my choice-to-be. In all honesty, I don't know nor will I try to describe what were those factors. What I do know is that before I left and more so as soon as I got home was that I was going to attend Grinnell College!!!
Yes, I know. I have still left many questions unanswered. What about the football part? I talked to Coach Wallace and I met and hung out with several of the players. Almost overnight, the stigma, the nostalgia, the impossibility of playing college football was gone. I knew that I could compete at the collegiate level and be successful. It wasn't going to be easy, but I was willing to go to Grinnell and give it a shot. Did you go to Grinnell to play football? No, playing football was just one of many bright spots that Grinnell offered. I will admit that I would have never heard about Grinnell had it not been for the football recruiting, but thankfully I did.
Below is more details, pictures, and information about the Grinnell College Experience. Hopefully these things will provided a better impression in yoru mind of what I have failed to give you via words.
|Grinnell Football field--spring||Harris Recreation Center--spring||Snow-covered Pine trees--winter||Noyce Science Building--winter|
|North Campus dorms--winter||Cowles Cafeteria & Harris Center--winter||2nd floor loggia--winter|
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