Story by J.D. McKay
This weekend, I made my official football visit at Wheaton College. It was one of the best weekends I can remember, including the weekend of the Jeffersonville sectional championship game.
I started looking at colleges my freshman year. We would visit two or three each spring break. I was looking for a Christian school, with great academics, chapel, and hopefully a football team.
Last Spring Break I visited Wheaton for the first time. I talked to since retired head coach Mike Swider and was introduced to my recruiting coach and Wheaton’s Defensive Coordinator, CJ Nightingale. Since then, I have been up to campus for football junior day over the summer, a football game day visit against Washington University (Wheaton won 52-13 after scoring 35 points in the first quarter), and then a ROTC scholarship interview before this weekend.
On the way up Thursday afternoon, I checked the ROTC scholarship web page and saw I received the four-year scholarship to Wheaton College. That means 100 percent full tuition, saving my family and me over 40,000 dollars a year. It was the only school that I received the four-year scholarship to. As I heard Coach Swider say over 20 times in the three times I heard him speak, “Thank You, Jesus.”
Then, I got onto campus and got to talk to a few other coaches and share the good news with Coach Nightingale. He was genuinely about as excited for me receiving the scholarship as my parents and grandparents are. After listening to interim head coach Jesse Scott talk about Wheaton’s program philosophy, I was introduced to my roommates for the weekend. We went to bed early because there was a 6 a.m. workout the following day.
We woke up at 5:20 a.m. for the optional workout. After the workout, I went to breakfast, a class, and chapel. Following chapel, I had my meeting with Coach Scott. During that meeting, he made an official offer to be on the team. I could have signed it in the meeting room, but he suggested we wait at least a day and take it home. That meant that pretty much everything I wanted and more had worked out. It was a school with chapel, a Christian school, and a chance to play football. Plus, I had a way to pay for it.
After that meeting, I went to another class and had two other meetings with coaches before working out with the players. Then, we ate dinner and went up to the room for a few minutes. The team building activity for that Friday night was dodgeball. It was pretty crazy. We went to Los Burritos Tapatios. Finally, we headed back to play shirtless poker.
Throughout the day, I saw what I had heard every coach I talked to say: The reason you go to Wheaton is not for the facilities (which are good), the food (which is also good), or the academics (which are great), you go for the people. The guys I lifted with, hung out with, and stayed with were all great guys who were pushing each other to the cross. That was exactly what I wanted, so at about 2 a.m. in Traber room 609, I signed the sheet and
decided I will continue my academic career and play football at Wheaton for the next four years.
I am extremely excited to be a Wheaton Thunder for the next four years. I am looking forward to playing for Coach Nightingale, who ran the best defense statistically at any level in college football this year. I am also excited to hang out with Christian guys all the time. But, I am looking forward to playing for the Little Brass Bell with North Central, conference championships and hopefully, national championships. Let’s Roll.