Every spring, Alex deGolia gets the bug to play football again.
Since he left college in California, he always had a reason not to play. First, it was taking care of his daughter, 4-year-old Integrity. Then it was finishing school and getting a job at North Idaho College, first as a technician and now as a financial aid advisor. Though he followed the Spokane Wolfpack, a minor-league football team, online for five years, the time was never quite right to put himself out there.
This year, he ran out of excuses.
“I was talking to my girlfriend and asking what she thought about it,” deGolia said. “She was totally supportive and said that she would come to the games. It was just time. I decided I was going to do it.”
In January, deGolia tried out for the Spokane Wolfpack. He’s now a slot receiver on the team.
For deGolia, football is more than a game. It’s been a way to learn life lessons and learn more about himself. That’s what drew him to football in the first place and what ultimately drew him back. Football taught deGolia how to face adversity, how to adjust and adapt and continue working toward an ultimate goal, whether that goal lies on a football field or in the job market.
“I learned a lot of life lessons from it and I think I can continue to do so by playing,” he said. “But the biggest thing for me is being part of a family—being part of a group of guys who all still want to play football and love the game just as much as me.”
The Wolfpack is a diverse group, deGolia said, including players from Idaho and Washington of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels. Team owner Travis Herzog was a student at NIC. Some are former players like deGolia, while others are brand new. Some military veterans who opted to serve their country rather than play college football are getting their chance to play now. The youngest player is 19 years old; the oldest is 50. deGolia admitted that he was nervous to tell people that he’d joined the team because he didn’t want to be “that guy,” the one who’s holding onto his glory days of college football. He was surprised by the enthusiasm of his coworkers.
“Everyone I’ve told, the entire NIC community, is excited about it,” he said. “They’re super supportive.” Joining the Wolfpack hasn’t just gotten deGolia back in the game. It’s also given him a chance to combine two of his passions: football and business. The two topics might not seem closely related at first glance, but deGolia saw his connections to both NIC and the Spokane Wolfpack as a way to foster a unique partnership.
“This gives me an opportunity to really use my relationships that I’ve built through NIC and combine them with the Wolfpack to create something bigger,” said deGolia, who graduated from Lewis-Clark State College with a degree in business and a minor in marketing. “I’m excited to combine both aspects of the Wolfpack and NIC and create a working relationship.”
NIC is one of the Wolfpack’s sponsors. An NIC banner will fly at Joe Albi Stadium during home games, and the NIC dorms have committed to attending two home games, which will help the Wolfpack achieve its goal of filling at least 1,000 seats in the nearly 30,000-seat stadium. Additionally, the Wolfpack and NIC have created internship opportunities for students looking for work experience in graphic design and marketing.
“Veterans and their families are a big part of the audience for the team and NIC wants to reach out to them,” said Stacy Hudson, NIC director for Communication and Marketing. “Expect Cardinals in the seats this spring cheering on the Wolfpack.”
deGolia will play in his first league home game April 27. He said he’s confident in his team.“I would be willing to put money on it that we have the best defense in the league,” he said. “Offensively, we have a lot of weapons. We have a lot of good guys playing and a lot of veterans coming back. We’ve got a lot of versatility on offense and a solid defense.”
More than anything, deGolia said he’s glad to have finally found his way back to football.
“It’s another opportunity to get on the field, wear pads and play the game that I love.”
--Story by Kaye Thornbrugh, managing editor of the NIC student newspaper The Sentinel and an intern in the NIC Communications and Marketing Department.
North Idaho College Financial Aid Advisor Alex deGolia poses for a picture on NIC’s Eisenwinter Field recently. When deGolia isn’t helping students navigate through the financial aid process, he’s often running routes as slot receiver for the Spokane Wolfpack minor league football team.