"Be the Rock." It's the mantra of the Augustana Vikings football team, which – combined with hard work – has had a hand in propelling them to a winning start this season.
The thinking behind it is when you throw a rock into the water, it makes a ripple, an impression. In Coach OJ’s words, “Besides being coachable, you need to be able to coach. It’s a wonderful thing when a player is correcting a player and making it right, and us coaches can then really steer the bus. Being the rock is being an example to everything we do. Being the rock is about accountability, both personal and for the team.”
As for how the team follows suit with the motto, I interviewed wide receiver Drew Reinschmidt and defensive linemen Alec Blonquist to get their take on the meaning and how holding each other accountable has led the team to early success.
Q: Let's dive into it. "Be the Rock" can be heard all along the sidelines and at practice. What does this year's motto mean to you?
Drew Reinschmidt: Be the Rock is about being accountable. This team is special, and the motto plays a big part of that. Being the rock allows us as players to step up and lead. The ripple effect of doing right trickles throughout the team. Players coaching players closes the gap and allows each guy to hold the next in check. Player-led teams end up being the better squads, and that’s what we are all about this year.
Alec Blonquist: Being the rock is being the standard and doing things right all the time. If every member of our team buys into that and is as solid as a rock at all times, no matter what, that means every single player is dependable and accountable for their brother. It is contagious and has a ripple effect. We have this mindset of a “player-led team," and that only works with accountability and having players hold each other to the standard, instead of the coaches having to do it all the time. Being the rock is having every player master their role, whatever it is, being solid and being there for every person on our team.
Q: Coach OJ stresses how he holds the team accountable on and off the field. How do you apply “Be the Rock” in your personal life too?
DR: Be the Rock is something you can live day in and day out. Whether it is roommates, friends, professors, etc., they are expecting your all, each and every day. When you wake up, you have the option to be great. The only easy day was yesterday. So, you have to hold yourself to a certain standard, and Be the Rock is a great life lesson and something to live by as a role model in the community.
AB: Being the rock on and off the field to me is being a man of integrity and doing the little things right, even when no one is watching me. Putting in the extra work, saying yes ma’am and yes sir, having great manners, doing everything I do to the best of my ability, being a leader in the community, etc. Those little things add up, and that is what being the rock is.
Q: If you could single a few players out that live and breathe this motto, and have made a difference for the entire squad by doing so, who would you say?
DR: There are so many names, but Kyle Saddler is a great leader and a guy that has a lot of power in the huddle. Guys look up to him, and Kyle is a do-right guy. Others are Sam Roble, who is a phenomenal guy, and Jake Lacina, who leads that offensive line so well.
AB: Kyle Saddler. He never leaves the football complex. Whether it is doing homework or studying film, he lives here, and it pays off. He has continued to prove people wrong, and that is why he is our guy and one of the top QBs in the country. Cody Kujawa has been one of my best friends since we came in together as freshman, because he does things the right way, and I know he will hold me accountable to do the same. He has always pushed me to be my best, and he does the same thing to whoever else he is around. He does what is asked of him, no matter how difficult the task. Dominic Novak, not a name you hear often, but the time is coming. Dom is one of those dudes that hasn’t complained once about his playing time, how many carries he gets, or how hard something might be. He just shows up every day and lays it on the line. That’s being the rock no matter what your role is.
Q: How has this mindset brought the team together through the first part of the season?
DR: Guys have really bought into this year and this team. The brotherhood is tighter than it has ever been in my time here. I think some guys have grown up a little bit and are understanding of teammates correcting them. When your brothers are trying to make you better and lead, it’s not a personal attack. They are doing it out of love and because they know you have better. This has really helped us grow into a tough physical squad with a lot to prove.
AB: Being a leader of this team has really given me a better view of the big picture, and this team is just different from all others throughout my career here. We are truly brothers. Every team says the same thing, but we embody it and are 100% bought into it. We have each other’s back no matter what, and are willing to hold the rope for one another and never let go.
Q: What is the biggest thing you want the team to achieve this year that you wouldn’t find on a stat sheet?
DR: I want to leave a great legacy as a senior class. I want to be that class that started something new at Augie. The guys I have met and the relationships I have formed is greater than football. It's something I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and I want this senior class to be the right example for the upcoming years.
AB: Leaving a legacy for those to come. My goal is to be able to come back next year and see the same love and brotherhood in the next team. You can see it by the way we play and the way we fight for each other. You can say you love your team as much as you want, but actions are louder than words, and how we play shows our family better than anything. My goal is to leave that legacy and have that be Augie football for the rest of time.