Former Grinnell QBs take their talents overseas
Sean Pfalzer '07 (left) and Sean Cotten '97 (right) not only share the same first name, but both also starred for the Pioneer football team during their days at Grinnell College.They share something else, as well - both took their football talents overseas and enjoyed experiences they'll never forget. Pfalzer recently wrapped up a season in the French Federation of American Football, while Cotten played two stints in the Super Series League in Sweden.Pfalzer played quarterback for the Thonon les Bins Black Panthers, and helped guide the team to a 7-4 mark and spot in the league semifinals. Two of the setbacks during the season came in the Euro Bowl, which includes the top teams from several countries. "We had a pretty good season," he said. "It took some adjusting at first since I was used to a different offense. We ran the wing-T offense, which doesn't involve much passing, but after a while the coach implemented a shotgun spread to help accommodate me. We went back and forth with our offenses."Each team in the league is allowed two international players, who get paid a stipend for their services. "Other than that, nobody gets paid," said Pfalzer. "The other players work jobs during the day and then practice at night."Practice time was the biggest adjustment Pfalzer had to make in France. "We would only practice on Wednesday and Friday at 8 p.m. and then play games on the weekends," he said. "In college I was so used to repping a play over and over again. (In France) we sometimes would install a play and run it just once before a game. I had butterflies in my stomach since I'd only seen the play one time, but it always seemed to work out. That's a real credit to our coach. He's been around long enough and knows what will work and what won't."Pfalzer also noted the range in age of players. "We had guys ranging from 19 years old to an offensive lineman who was 42 or 43," he said. "That guy has been playing 20 years and was one of the best offensive linemen we had."Though Pfalzer sharpened his French-speaking skills over the year, he didn't have to speak the language as much as he figured. "So many of my teammates knew English and they utilized their chance to speak it while getting to know me," he said. Cotten, who played three seasons at safety for Grinnell before switching to quarterback as a senior, enjoyed two stints in Sweden. He was a quarterback for the Karlstad Crusaders in 1998 and 1999 before stepping away from the game, only to return in 2006 with the intent of playing for the Swedish national team in the World Cup, which was contested in Japan. He played for Karlstad upon his return to football but, living in Stockholm, switched to the Stockholm Mean Machines the following season."When I first decided to play overseas, I did so because it sounded like a lot of fun," said Cotten. "It turned out to be a great opportunity. When I came back I wanted to play in the World Cup and that was a wonderful experience. We went on to finish fourth."Cotten said the game has progressed significantly from when he first started playing. "When I was playing in the 1990s, I was basically the offensive coordinator," he said. "I was making the calls on which play to run. Now teams are more advanced and guys who used to play are now serving as coaches."He added that when he first began playing in Sweden, teams could have just one international player but now that number has grown to three. Like Pflazer, Cotten said practice time was the biggest difference from his college days. "We only practiced twice a week and then played games on Saturdays," he said. "We (international players) got paid but the other guys had full-time jobs. You really gained respect for those players - they were working hard and doing it all just for fun."While both enjoyed their experiences, Cotten and Pfalzer said their football days are probably over. Cotten is working as a risk analyst for a bank in Stockholm and Pfalzer is pursuing options in Boston.
Drake pens book on history of Midwest Conference
George Drake '56, professor emeritus of history at Grinnell College and member of the school's Athletic Hall of Fame, has culminated a project he calls "a labor of love" with the completion of the 100-page soft cover book No Ordinary Conference, an introspective history of the Midwest Conference. Drake teamed with 2001 Grinnell graduate John Aerni to provide a unique look at the league's history through interviews with Midwest Conference student-athletes and unprecedented access to league minutes. The book includes the accounts of numerous student-athletes and chronicles over 80 years of history from the league's formation through the men's and women's conference unification and beyond. No Ordinary Conference also features a 34-page photo gallery of some of the conference's all-time great athletes, coaches and administrators.The Midwest Conference office is making the book available to the general public at a discounted price for a limited time only (a small number of copies may be available at full price after the ship date). Orders are expected to ship in September.
Grinnell alum qualifies for 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials
Grinnell College graduate Heather May '92 has qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the women's marathon.The race, hosted by the Boston Athletic Association, will be contested Sunday, April 20, 2008. That is the day before the 112th running of the Boston Marathon. May qualified for the Trials with her time of 2 hours, 45 minutes, 52 seconds run at the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon on Oct. 22, 2006. She is one of 142 women who qualified for the race.May's story is interesting in the fact she did not begin running until she was 28 years old. However, she quickly developed an aptitude for the marathon distance. She has run seven career sub-three-hour marathons, and will be competing in her second Olympic Trials in 2008. She was named Indiana USATF Female Distance Runner of the Year in 2004.May received her bachelor's degree in theater from Grinnell College in 1992, and her PhD in theatre and drama from Indiana University in 2007. She is currently assistant professor of theatre at Auburn University. She is married to Kelly Walker.
Alumni Gather for Annual Honor G Luncheon and Coach's Reception
Although inclement weather interrupted portions of the weekend, several members of the Grinnell College Athletic Alumni returned to campus to celebrate alumni weekend from Thursday, May 31 thru Sunday, June 3, 2007.On Friday morning, several members took part in the annual Alumni Honor G Luncheon located in the new Pavilion of the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center. They enjoyed a meal and fellowship and were also able to sit back and listen to each coach reflect back upon this past year.
Many of those same members made their way to the Grinnell Golf and Country Club later in the day for a coach's reception. The reception was originally scheduled to follow the golf scramble; however, inclement weather forced play to be cancelled. Former Pioneer alumni were able to sit back and enjoy fellowship with each other as well as with the coaches.