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The Dartmouth
May 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Hollisto's World

In less than 24 hours, I will strap on my helmet and lace up my cleats for the last time as a Dartmouth football player. I hate to sound cliche, but it all went by too fast. I'm absolutely positive that the 33 other seniors on the team would agree with me.

Just 39 months ago, I joined the team as a scrawny freshman who couldn't grow facial hair. I had my whole collegiate football career ahead of me and dreamed of gridiron greatness. If I made a mistake or wasn't good enough to get in a game, there was always tomorrow. I had a seemingly endless number of chances to make myself better.

Now, things are coming to an end. I still suck at growing beards, but I no longer have the added promise of the next game. I've served my time and my legacy is almost complete. I have one more opportunity to play for the Big Green and I intend to leave my heart and soul on Memorial Field on Saturday.

I've learned just as much from football as I have in the classroom. Although my football coaches didn't ever really help me differentiate multivariable equations, they sure as hell made me a better man. To my coaches: I want all of you to know how much I respect each and every one of you.

I couldn't have learned these lessons if not for the dedicated members of the athletic training staff. I can't really use my left thumb and I probably have the joints of a 45-year-old stunt man, but I'm still able to run and hit. Thanks for keeping me in one piece (with hundreds of rolls of tape).

In 2008, my first year of collegiate football, the Big Green went 0-10. If you wrote an instruction manual about the proper introduction to college football, that season would have been the complete opposite.

Although the season was bad, the off-season was even worse. We didn't have the opportunity to rebuild our reputation until the first kickoff of the next season, which was nearly 10 months away. For almost a year, we felt like the laughing stock of the entire school.

Our off-season training was brutal. Rebuilding a program doesn't magically happen overnight you need to put in the work if you expect to be competitive. Our coaches knew this and pushed everyone past their physical limits.

Every morning during that time, I would trudge through the snow to the weight room at 6:45 a.m. Nearly every brutal lift was followed by an equally brutal run. And to make matters worse, I had a full day of class following that.

But the hardest part of the winter was watching every member of the team nearly kill himself in the weight room without seeing any reward for his sacrifice. We would go to Leverone Field House for extra runs. We plowed Memorial Field for extra agility work. All the hard work, however, could not change our record we were still 0-10.

Those grueling 10 months proved to be the most influential period of my life. The seniors on the football team are eternally bonded because of Winter 2009. We all suffered, but we suffered together. If you have never had to hold a 45-pound plate above your head for 20 minutes, you're lucky. Anyone who had to can tell you that it's one of the worst feelings he'll ever experience. They'll also tell you that they couldn't have done it without the collective will and support of everyone else on the team. To everyone, especially the seniors, taking the field with me on Saturday: I will love all of you guys forever. You're all my best friends and I'll follow you into battle no matter the place, time or circumstance.

Eventually, our team was rewarded. On Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009, a rainy and gloomy Homecoming day, we snapped a 17-game losing streak with a 28-6 victory against Columbia University. The fans stormed the field and my parents tearfully hugged me after the game. I'll never forget singing the Alma Mater with my teammates after the game. With every word, the burden of the previous season was cleared off of our shoulders. We finally had a taste of greatness, a taste that led to more wins and more singing over the next two years of my career. And now this Saturday, we have a chance to become the first Dartmouth football team to finish with a winning Ivy League record since 2003.

Through adversity, I've learned the value and necessity of sacrifice. Through football, I've become a better person. Although my playing career is coming to an end, I will always be a Dartmouth football player. As long as there is granite in New Hampshire, Dartmouth green and white will always flow through my veins.