by Seth Johnson 

Gideon Burnham, a 23-year-old outside linebacker from Alexandria, Minnesota, is preparing for the season ahead, but especially looked forward to the homecoming game against rival school College of St. Scholastica. He ended last season with a striking 74 tackles and 6.5 sacks and is continuing to play a key role on the University of Northwestern – St. Paul’s defense this season.

gideonBut Burnham didn’t expect to be at Northwestern four years ago. He was playing baseball at a junior college in Minnesota when his coach came to talk to him.  “One of my coach’s sons played at UNW. He told me to go check it out,” Burnham said. “I ended up going on a visit, liking it and enrolling the next fall.”

The six-foot-tall, 215-pound senior soon realized that the Northwestern football team was different than any other team out there. “It focused on Jesus and not just winning,” Burnham reflected. “This program wants each of its players to see more of Jesus through our practice, conduct and play…which is something that I’ve never been around in a formal sports setting.”

Burnham saw Northwestern as different, but loving. He has been affected by coaches, staff and even his teammates. This caring environment encouraged him to dig deeper and even study ministry as a major.

Burnham noted that his two best friends, Northwestern senior football players Ben Johnson and Chris Compton have influenced him strongly. “The most influential person in my time as a player for UNW football has been a dude named Ben Johnson,” Burnham said. “I have had the privilege of being a teammate of his for three years, and in those three years I’ve never met another person that has been so committed to sharing the Gospel.”

In 2015 Burnham, Compton and Johnson went on a summer missions trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Burnham described it as “the most memorable moment that I’ve been a part of with UNW football.” He heard his best friend and starting nose guard for the Eagles, Compton share his story. “Compton got to share everything that the Lord had done in his life the last couple months,” Burnham said. “Seeing the amazing transformation in his life can only happen by the supernatural.”

Burnham has shown his leadership skills on the football field and in the community at UNW. “Northwestern has shown me that not everyone has it together,” Burnham said. “Therefore, we need other people in our lives that are committed to the Gospel to live life with us.”  Burnham, the starting outside linebacker for Eagle’s football, prepares for the upcoming game on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 at 1 p.m. at Reynolds field. “The game always comes down to the last wire,” the defensive phenomenon said. “That’s what makes it so fun.”

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