by Hannah Haegele
Cody Kielsa, a senior at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul majoring in kinesiology, has been playing football since he was in ninth grade. “I love football because it’s really the only sport besides hockey that you can hit someone, and just that alone got me hooked,” said Kielsa.
Kielsa has taken his hard hitting talents from under the Friday night lights at Rogers High School to Hamline University and to Northwestern, where he excelled as an All-American defensive back. He can now add one more team to that list, as he is currently in Casper, Wyoming in training camp with the Wyoming Cavalry, a team in the IFL (Indoor Football League).
“I was in total shock that I was contacted because not many Division III athletes get a chance to even get a look at the pros, so I considered myself to be very blessed with this chance,” said Kielsa.
Last year the Cavalry finished last in the Intense conference with a 1-13 record. 2013 brings a new head coach to the team in Ryan Lingenfelder. The season for the IFL runs from February to June. Before Kielsa can actually suit up and play in a real game for the Cavalry he is going to have to prove he is worthy of a spot through two weeks of training camp.
Kielsa described the process of training camp. “The process is simple; if you make the team you get to continue playing, and if you aren’t what they are looking for they just send you home. It could be an interesting couple weeks of camp. We practice every day and have team events where we make public appearances and sign autographs.”
Justin Burke, the defensive backs coach for the Eagles football team, thinks that Kielsa has the right skills for this opportunity. He said, “Cody is going to go into this opportunity head first with everything he’s got, I have no doubt. I think the IFL style suits him well, with a smaller field and more of a passing emphasis. I’m excited to see him do well.”
A man who has seen first-hand the kind of enthusiasm Kielsa plays with is Eagles lead football coach, Kirk Talley. He stated, “Cody has an unbelievable passion for sports, period. He is one of UNW’s all-time great all-around athletes, playing football, baseball and even club hockey. When he wants something, he works his tail off.”
In Cody’s senior season he recorded four interceptions, 46 tackles and six pass breakups. He was a team leader and led by example, taking pride in always hustling to make a play and giving 100 percent.
Burke said, “On the field, Cody is a good sized kid and has very good athleticism to go with his size. Because of that, he was pretty versatile for us and played a few different positions on defense as well as returning kicks.”
Talley said, “Cody was a big play man for us. His biggest strengths were his confidence and athleticism. He is football smart.”
News spread quickly around the UNW campus of Kielsa’s contract signing. Kielsa said, “I have received so much support from the UNW community via messages that it just makes me so proud to have been a part of a community that has got my back.”
Coach Talley voiced his own support for Kielsa saying, “I know one thing, he will give his best shot with all the passion he can muster. That is the only way Cody knows how to compete. I am proud of him ,and we are all rooting for him.”
Something that Kielsa is leaning on to help him out on his journey is his faith. Talley mentioned that Kielsa has grown significantly in the spiritual aspect of his life through playing football at UNW.
Burke said, “He had a lot to overcome when he first transferred in, but God has done incredible work in him since then, and it’s been fun to watch.”
No matter where his dream of football takes him, Kielsa is confident that God will always be in control.
“Without Christ behind me, none of this is possible at all. I’m putting all my trust in Him,” said Kielsa.