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Football Feature: Meet the faces behind UW football

by Samantha Benish August 28, 2021

The changing of seasons brings back many fan favorites, including colorful leaves, tasty new coffee flavors and more. However, arguably one of the most important events is the return of fall football. Despite an abnormal season last year, players from across the state of Wisconsin are eagerly awaiting to get back on the field. Fans alike are sitting on the edge of their seats, just waiting to get back in the stands and cheer for their team.

In anticipation of the new season, I reached out and found some of the most dedicated football players in Wisconsin. Their stories did not disappoint, and I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet the faces behind Wisconsin football.

 

Andy Metcalf

Hometown: La Crosse, WI

School: UW-River Falls

Current year: Senior

Position: Linebacker

@metcalf_hadacow

Why did you choose your UW school?

UW-River Falls is a special place. The small-town feel of River Falls combined with the closeness of the Twin Cities makes this place the perfect location for people who don’t want to go to a small college but also don’t want to go to a huge school.  At UWRF, you see both familiar faces and new faces everyday. Another reason I chose River Falls is because I knew I wanted to spend a few years away from my hometown and become more independent. Lastly, football influenced my decision because I knew a couple of older guys came here to play football and they loved it. So, with all that considered, I thought River Falls was the place for me - and I was right!

What does playing for UW mean to you?

Being a college athlete means the world to me. I grew up playing sports year-round, so I have never done school without sports at any point in my life.  Being on a team gives me purpose toward a goal that is bigger than myself, and it also gives me a sense of belonging. That sense of belonging is especially strong with the football team at UWRF because we really stress and work hard at becoming one big family of brothers.

Tell me a little about the impact that football has had on your life.

Football gives me something to look forward to and work for each and every day. Beyond motivating me to be my best self on and off the field, playing football has taught me numerous life lessons, including the importance of teamwork and trusting others. My education has given me tools to be successful in life after school, but football has contributed greatly to those tools.

 

Grant Lindell

Hometown: Mosinee, WI

School: UW-Stout

Current year: Junior

Position: Defensive Line

@lindell_3_

Why did you choose your UW school?

I chose this university because when I came for a visit, it just felt like home. It was also brought to my attention that they had outstanding professors and smaller classroom attendance, which I felt would help me a lot more in school.

What does playing for UW mean to you?

To me, playing for a UW school really means a lot. The feeling of representing my hometown and home state is an indescribable feeling. My school isn't glorified like UW-Madison, but our hard work put in throughout the years doesn't go unnoticed. 

Tell me a little about the impact that football has had on your life.

Throughout my years of football, I was taught many things. I was taught how to be a man, own up to my mistakes, and be a leader when nobody else wanted to be. I was also taught how to overcome adversity. When times get tough, I just have to roll with the punches and keep moving forward.

 

Tanner Inglima

Hometown: Winnebago, IL

School: UW-Whitewater

Current year: Junior

Position: Tight End

@tinglima13

Why did you choose your UW school?

I chose Whitewater because of the atmosphere. Many places I went to claimed that their football team was a family; however, Whitewater was the one place where everybody was focused on football, and that’s where their success came from. Whitewater has that winning atmosphere because nobody plays for themselves: we play for each other. It’s one football family with one goal in mind.

What does playing for UW mean to you?

To me, playing for UW-Whitewater is day in and day out - you’re gonna be competing with the guy next to you, challenging each other to get better everyday. When Saturday comes, it’s strictly business. Playing here is a privilege because not many people have the opportunity to play college football. Even fewer people have the opportunity to say they play for a program that has the history of Whitewater. It’s something I don’t want to take for granted.

Tell me a little about the impact that football has had on your life.

I grew up on the football field because my dad was one of the high school coaches, and my older brother played football throughout high school. All my life I have been a part of a football team, from being a waterboy when I was younger to officially playing on the field. After college, I want to be a coach because even when I hang up the cleats, I don’t want to walk away from football.

 

Jordan DiBenedetto

Hometown: Rockford, IL

School: UW-Madison

Current year: Redshirt Sophomore

Position: Wide Receiver

@_jordan.dibenedetto_

Why did you choose your UW school?

This was my dream school growing up - it was the only place I ever wanted to go.

What does playing for UW mean to you?

It means a lot to me - I can represent my state, play for my dream school and be a part of something bigger than myself. I can also chase my dreams of trying to win a Natty and make it to the NFL.

Tell me a little about the impact that football has had on your life.

Football has taught me about patience and has made me physically and mentally stronger. It has allowed me to develop a close brotherhood with my teammates that I’ve never had before - I love those guys. It’s always been something that's put a smile on my mom’s face, watching me play and do what I love. Football is my release from the stress of the real world.

 

Victor Ponterio

Hometown: Melrose, WI

School: UW-Stevens Point

Current year: Junior

Position: Kicker

@victor_ponterio

 

Why did you choose your UW school?

I chose Point because of all the opportunities that the football program and education programs provided for me. It allowed me to propel my career in natural resources that most other colleges could not do. I love the environment that the campus holds, from the pretty plants, trees, lakes, and animals. I also get the privilege to play in the most competitive D3 conference in the nation, and that itself motivates me to do better every day. 

What does playing for UW mean to you?

Playing for Point means so much, but to answer it briefly, I would say it means you get the privilege to play for the people around you and the people that supported you along the way. It means doing the best I can to give back to the people who come to the games and the people that run the university. Without them, I wouldn’t have this opportunity.

Tell me a little about the impact that football has had on your life.

The sport of football impacted my life ever since high school. Halfway through high school, I decided to join the team. I started to make a lot of friends, and I eventually found out I was good enough to play in college. I soon learned that college football changes you and develops you into a real outstanding gentleman. So many life lessons can be learned through the sport, and you learn a lot about yourself to understand what kind of person you want to be. You also learn how you can become a leader - not by creating followers, but by developing more leaders. Without this sport, I never would’ve found out who I really am. I’m excited to pass down the knowledge I learned to my kids in the future, and I will continue to try and dominate my goals throughout life with the help of what I’ve learned from this sport.

 

Brody Milz

Hometown: South Wayne, WI

School: UW-Oshkosh

Current year: Sophomore

Position: Inside Linebacker

@milzy5

Why did you choose your UW school?

Choosing a university to go to was quite the experience, especially with the recruiting process. Although academics play a role, all UW institutions have great academic programs. I was recruited by many D3 schools all the way up to the FCS level. I was never offered any official scholarships from the upper level universities, so I started to pay attention to the smaller, in-state institutions like Whitewater, Oshkosh, and La Crosse. I was recruited by every WIAC school, but Coach Cerroni was the only one to come visit with me personally at my house. Coach Cerroni and Coach Stenny’s visit motivated me to become a part of the Titan family. Additionally, one of the Alumni from my highschool, Taylor Goodman, was an All-American player there in 2012.

What does playing for UW mean to you?

Playing for a UW institution means a lot. They take a lot of pride in academics and athletics, especially football. The WIAC is the best and most competitive conference in the nation at the D3 level, and there are many great athletes that attend these schools. I was humbled quickly after arriving at Oshkosh. Learning how to sit and wait my turn as well as learning and working to improve myself would help me succeed in future endeavors. I'm just grateful that I have the opportunity to represent a small part of the state that I love so much.

Tell me a little about the impact that football has had on your life.

Football has had a huge impact on my life. My father was my high school coach, so I grew up with football. I got to be a manager and be a part of the high school team at a young age, and watching them inspired me. To be able to play for my dad for four years was a blessing, as well as taking him back to Camp Randall at state my senior year. The relationships that I've created from this sport are irreplaceable. They are like a brotherhood. Time, effort and emotion creates a bond between people like no other. I wouldn't be where I am today without the continuing support of my friends and teammates. The life lessons I’ve learned are irreplaceable. There's a reason why so many players cry when a football season ends. There's nothing quite like it.

 

After reaching out, the Universities of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Platteville and La Crosse declined to participate in an interview.

Samantha Benish


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