Dartmouth long snapper Josh Greene ’23 will be sharing his experience playing for the Big Green, covering topics such as the team’s preparation following COVID-19, the academic-sport-life balance required of an athlete at an Ivy League school and other musings on his experience in Hanover. This installment reflects on Greene’s experience growing as a leader and mentor following the Big Green’s second-to-last game of the season, a 17-13 loss to Cornell.
Sometimes I sit back and try to put things in perspective. What is our purpose in life? We are here for a finite time, so what does it matter what we do in that time? On some occasions, it seems that it might not matter. How does the outcome of an Ivy League football game impact the world around us?
For me, I have found at least a partial answer through mentorship. The last two years, I have been a part of a group called DREAM: Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure and Mentoring. IN DREAM, Dartmouth students dedicate their Fridays to spending time with children in surrounding communities who are less fortunate than many. My mentee has helped me put into perspective what we can mean to others.
At Dartmouth’s annual Football 101 event — in which children from the local community come to spend time with the football team — at the end of the summer, my mentee came with his youth football team. I could tell how proud he felt because he knew someone on the team. Even if the player who he knows is just the long snapper, he and his friends looked up to us. Although I cannot attend most DREAM Fridays in the fall due to football, this event made it clear to me that I, along with my teammates, are inherently looked up to and placed in mentorships roles due to the position that we are in.
Being in a position to mentor others is not something that happened overnight. I have learned a lot about leadership through osmosis — simply by being a part of this team. Of course, when we, the Class of 2023, were freshmen, we had great leaders and mentors to learn from. From Niko Lalos ’20 and Jack Traynor ’19 to Jake Pallotta ’20 and Drew Estrada ’20, we had older guys who were hungry to win, and they knew that teaching us the way to do things was essential to reaching our goals as a team.
At the time, I could not imagine being in that same role as a senior. But, here we are, and the Class of 2023 has one game left together in our senior year. We needed the older guys back then to show us how to work hard at this level and win as a team, but I have seen such growth from within our class that it is hard to believe that we used to be the ones on the receiving end of mentorship.
I look at our two captains on the defensive side of the ball, Quinten Arello ’23 and Shane Cokes ’23. They went from guys who led by example in the past — being contributors on the field early on in their careers — to guys who know when they need to be loud and use their voices to send a message to the team. If you have been around any of our practices this year, you have definitely heard Cokes during our “Team” periods, when the full squad faces off, offense versus defense. Then there are guys like Gavin Muir ’23 and Dale Chesson ’23 who, due to injuries or other factors, haven’t played a ton, but have a gravitational pull to them. They might not speak up a lot, but they have become leaders whom teammates just want to go to battle with and for. Our class is full of players who have become leaders in one way or another — but, to me, they are all mentors.
I didn’t have a brother growing up. I was always close with my teammates on my travel sports teams and high school football squad, but being on this team has brought something different to the table. When you wake up, eat breakfast, go to lift, go to lunch, go to meetings, practice, go to dinner, study and hang out with the same guys for three years (which would have been four, but for the pandemic), you become close. We may fight, we may get annoyed with one other, but after this much time together, all of that comes from love.
As much as I love being a Dartmouth football player, I love it so much because I get to do it with my classmates. I have loved growing up with them from starry-eyed freshman to the elder-statesmen seniors. I could not have matured into the adult I am now without witnessing my brothers do so at the same time. We have essentially lived together for four years, and all of the amazing and unique characteristics of my classmates (like James McCarthy’s ’23 wit or Jaylin Rainey’s ’23 prowess for quick zingers) have rubbed off on me. They have been mentors to me so that I can be a mentor to others now, like my DREAM mentee, and in the future.
Even when we all go our separate ways and go on to do great things, the time that I have spent with these guys will stay with me, and help me grow into someone who they can be proud to have been teammates with. Good luck, brothers.