Over half of the Albion College student body participates in one of 23 varsity sports teams on campus. The college places an emphasis on competing at a high level in the NCAA Division III while also excelling each day in the classroom.
The vast number of student-athletes on campus have a multitude of backgrounds, including many unique players that often go unnoticed. Due to COVID-19 last school year, athletes had to move all fall sports to the spring for competitions. This year with COVID-19 restrictions being let up, athletes are able to have more of a ‘normal’ fall season.
In light of that and in order to truly appreciate all of the student-athletes who make up Albion athletics, The Pleiad’s “Beyond the Spotlight” series features a different athlete and the impact they have had on campus.
Featured in this week’s “Beyond the Spotlight” is Conner Smith, inside linebacker and Frankfort junior. Smith is also the president of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Community (SAAC).
The football coaches’ positive attitude and personable approaches motivated Smith to enroll at Albion College.
“They just wanted to talk to me. It didn’t have to be about football and stuff like that. They asked how I was doing,” said Smith. “I played two other sports in high school, so they would ask me how those games went. We went to states for basketball at the Breslin and they all showed up. It was really cool.”
Smith’s feelings towards the coaches have not changed since deciding to come to Albion. Smith also appreciates the athlete-to-coach relationship despite there being about 120 football players on the team.
“Another thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been here is that they can tell when somethings up and I’m having a bad day. They’ll pull you aside and tell you ‘hey what’s going on? I can tell you’re not yourself,’” said Smith. “Which is crazy to me, at least for football, because there’s 120 dudes and they take the time out of their day to talk to you.”
Smith claims to be a quiet guy and someone that leads by example. He comes to practice and does his part by pushing through hard times and being dependable to his teammates. Smith encourages his teammates to move past mistakes because in the grand scheme of things, no one cares about one mistake.
“Especially with COVID, just push through. It doesn’t really matter, our coach says it all the time. No one cares, the other team doesn’t care, the school doesn’t care, like you just gotta keep pushing through,” said Smith. “One thing [coach] always says is like if you mess up at work one day, you still gotta go back to work the next day. It doesn’t matter if you mess up or have a bad day. When you have a family and you mess up at work you still have a family, still gotta take care of them. I think that’s the biggest thing. You still gotta push through. You still gotta do your job.”
The perseverant mentality not only stands true for Smith, but also for the entire football team.
“You gotta believe in the unknown. Coach [Beurer] says that all the time,” said Smith. “You don’t know what’s going to happen so you might as well push through because if you don’t know then you just gotta keep going. It’s kinda like our team mentality to believe in the unknown.”
The football team has started out strong this season with a 4-0 streak. Last season, the football team was only able to compete in three games due to COVID-19, but was still able to win the MIAA championship title.
“We won the conference last year, but I know a lot of people were saying it really didn’t count because we only played three games. We were supposed to play six, but the three other teams canceled,” said Smith. “We are just hungry and we want to prove to everyone that we are as good as the preseason ranking show. I feel like we are just ready to go. We are hungry each and every week. We just want to play.”
Playing only three games last season was tough for Smith, but he was glad Albion was one of the three programs that got to finish out the season, saying the three games were better than no games.
“If anything I feel like sticking through that whole season with COVID and everything, I feel like that was more of a sentimental championship for us even if people don’t believe in it or think that we got it because we only played three games,” said Smith. “I feel like that just shows our team’s perseverance to play each and every week.”
The football team will be away at Adrian College Oct. 9 with kickoff at 5pm.