Dordt College News

Football & music: They're not so different

January 15, 2010

For two football players, it was being able to play both football and a musical instrument that brought them to Dordt College.

Both activities remain important parts of their college lives.

Justin Knot expects to follow his parents' and siblings' example and teach.Justin Knot, a sophomore from Hudsonville, Michigan, simply didn’t want to quit playing football yet and, in fact, he hopes to stay involved in it after college by teaching middle school and coaching football. But originally, he wanted to teach music and coach, so staying in band was essential for his career goals.

One school he considered didn’t have football, and one said combining music and football would be impossible. Dordt Coach John Heavner was willing to work with Knot, as was band director Brad Miedema. Together they set up a contract: Knot would attend band on Monday and Thursday from 5-6 p.m., missing Tuesday’s rehearsal. He would attend football practice on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. He also agreed to watch practice videos on his own time for football and practice extra to make up for the missed band rehearsal.

Sam Du Mez, a junior engineering major from Brookfield, Wisconsin, wasn’t ready to give up football or his cello either. Although orchestra rehearsals and football have fewer conflicts, Du Mez misses Wednesday football practice to Sam Du Mez plans to go into mechanical in orchestra. Like Knot, he’s unwilling to say which he loves more—they’re both important to him. Yo Yo Ma’s Six Bach Suites are usually in his iPod, and he’s been a cello player and a Packers and Badgers fan as long as he can remember. He knows it’ll be easier to keep up cello following graduation, but he doesn’t want to quit football as long as there’s any chance to play. He admits, though, that both take a back seat to his studies. “That’s my career,” he says.

Knot and Du Mez, both good students, are making it work, but both admit that during football season, their extracurricular activities often double as their social life. Days are full with classes, practices, and rehearsals, and evenings are all studying.

Following dinner, Knot spends half an hour on his trumpet and then heads to the library until 11 p.m. or so. “You have to manage your time carefully,” he says.

“My day is a struggle to find time to do everything that needs to be done,” says Du Mez. “I haven’t played a video game since summer, but it’s worth it.” He allows himself to spend a little less time on his cello during the fall football season, giving cello more priority during the spring semester, when he also takes lessons. Still, he finds he needs to put in practice time to keep up with the difficulty of the music he plays as a member of the Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra. He takes seriously his responsibility to do his part to make sure the orchestra is as good as it can be.

That sense of responsibility and commitment to the group is what Knot loves about both of his extracurricular interests.

“I love the interaction and working together,” he says. “In football, eleven people have to work together to make something good happen; in band, sixty-five. We each have a responsibility to one another. It’s fun to see it all come together in a game and in a concert.”

Would they encourage others to follow their path? Absolutely, they both say. They love what they do and where they are doing it.

“I think you should pursue activities you enjoy as long as you can,” says Du Mez. “The time will come soon enough when you can’t.”

“I’m happy here and enjoy it all very much,” says Knot. “People are so friendly—and they really mean it.”

Both would make the same choice again.


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