Article by Nicholas Evangelista <email@example.com>
Bruises tattoo his arms and legs all over, and with his helmet in hand, Michael Evangelista limps off the field after another football practice at Ursinus College. Although Mike is not a starter, he practices with the team every day on the scout team as a third-string offensive guard, and it has taken a toll on his body.
“I love playing on the scout team, but I’ve been beat up over the years. My legs have especially been hurt from all the football,” says Mike. Mike has played football at Ursinus for four years, and he will end his collegiate football career with only having ever been a third or fourth string player on the scout team. However, Mike has never been discouraged by this as he has loved his time on the scout team, and emphasizes the vital role this unit plays for the Ursinus football program.
“I’d say it’s just as important as any other position on the team,” Mike responded when asked about the importance of the scout team players. The job of a scout team is to play like the football team’s upcoming opposition so that the starters can get a game-like feel of what to expect for their upcoming matchup. For example, if Ursinus football were to play Muhlenberg, the scout team would run offensive and defensive plays that Muhlenberg would use, and the starters play against them as if they are actually playing against Muhlenberg. “We help the defense get better so when the game comes, they have an idea of what’s coming and how to play against it,” Mike responded when asked about how the scout team helps the starters. Although Mike acknowledges the importance of the scout team, there are some struggles that come with this role as well.
The game of football can be taxing to the body of anyone who plays the sport, and Mike’s body has certainly been punished. “Sometimes my legs don’t feel like they work, and I struggle to get myself out of bed,” Mike said about his football injuries. This kind of punishment is sure to come to most people who play football, regardless of if they are a starter or on the scout team, but some members of the scout team put themselves through this punishment without ever getting a chance to play meaningful minutes in a game. Mike is one of these players, as some of his only times on the field during a live game have been during victory formation. When asked if being a part of the scout team damns a player to the bench for the season, Mike replied, “pretty much.” With Mike’s body being so stressed and damaged from the sport just to be damned to the scout team and bench, one might think Mike would find himself discouraged or uninterested in finishing his senior year as a part of the football team, but that could not be more wrong.
“You know, it’s a sense of pride, not like, oh no, we’re banished to the scout team,” said Mike. “You take pride when you see the defense on the field on Saturday, you know, you’re like ‘I was helping these guys get better. I was doing that,” Mike added. Despite not getting much playing time, Mike takes pride in his role on the scout team, and appreciates the job for what it is, and coaches and other players on the team find similar appreciation for the scout players. When asked if the coaches acknowledge the importance of the scout team, Mike replied, “Of course they do. They know without us; the defense would have a harder time preparing better for the game.” Additionally, Christian Richards, a senior defensive end who has played against Mike on the scout team, said this about the importance of the scout team, “Iron sharpens iron. They help us get better for the game, and we help them become better for the future.”
The scout team can be a trying job. One where playing time is limited, and a player’s body is beaten, but that does not discourage Mike from loving his role for the Bears. It is a trial, but also a source of pride and importance to Mike, and all members of the Ursinus College football team.