The culmination of four years of dedication to art will be on display at Winona State University during the last two weeks of the 2019 spring semester.
The annual Senior Art Show will feature work by students graduating on May 10 or who will be graduating in the fall, all majoring in art, art education and design.
Roger Boulay, the Gallery and Art Collection Coordinator said the addition of the design students is new to the show this year which brings a new element to the exhibition.
“They’re presenting a range of work; some have altered photographs, some students have designed their own patterns that will be printed,” Boulay said. “One design student is making clothing, he’s really interested in fashion so he’s making his own jacket that will be laser engraved with text on it.”
The show opens on April 29 and features six students with a show called “Fluid Studio,” that will deal in color and the challenge of a group show.
“It’s a little bit tricky in a group show when you have six different artists with six very different points of view to find one theme that really encapsulates everyone,” Boulay said. “So Fluid Studio is meant to speak to that conundrum of a group show.”
The second week will focus on the remaining six students starting May 6, the theme for that show is “Roots,” which explores where people are from, ideas of home and self-portraiture.
Kieran McDonnell, a senior majoring in studio arts is in the “Fluid Studio” exhibit.
McDonnell expressed his excitement on showing his work in a gallery that has featured many nationally and internationally known professional artists.
“To be in the same space as them is really an honor, but this show is really a wonderful opportunity for us,” McDonnell said. “Our show is based around our perception of how we’ve grown as artists…everyone in here has worked hard and we are all looking forward to seeing this show come to completion.”
“Fluid Studio” was originally going to feature the students’ first self-portrait alongside a current one, but for spacing reasons that element was cut from the first show.
This element will be featured in “Roots,” allowing gallery viewers to see the progress of each student and compare the two works.
In Boulay’s class, students create a professional portfolio and learn how to install , so they will be installing the exhibit in the Watkins Gallery.
“It’s entirely up to the students to design and install their own exhibition,” Boulay said. “I’ve taught them how to install their work and now it’s up to them to get everything organized and decide how everything is going to look. It’s also really exciting for students who are graduating to have an exhibition in the gallery during commencement, so they can bring their families through and look at their work.”
The Watkins Gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hours on Wednesdays.
For additional information about Watkins Gallery and the exhibit follow these links:
A crowd of more than 50 people gathered on Winona State University’s campus on Monday, April 29, for the unveiling of the newly named “Robert A. DuFresne Performing Arts Center.”
Dufresne, who passed away in 2015, was president of Winona State from 1967-78, and was president during the construction of seven buildings on campus, including the PAC.
The dedication event began with various speakers, and was followed by refreshments in the PAC lobby.
University President Scott Olson spoke on the impact DuFresne had on the university as a whole, and on himself.
“He was a friend and mentor to me, and he was also a hero to me,” Olson said. “It’s entirely fitting that we gather here to remember Bob DuFresne and everything he meant to this university, and at last recognize what he meant to us.”
DuFresne’s wife and son, Barbara and Jeff DuFresne, also shared comments at the event.
Barbara DuFresne spoke mostly about her husband’s time as president of the university, as well as his time with Winona State after his presidency.
Jeff DuFresne focused on how fitting it was for the PAC to be named after his father, stating that he “was always a great supporter of the performing arts.”
The proposal for the name change, which had initially been brought up in December of 2017, was written by three former Winona State faculty members: Jim Reynolds, a retired sociology professor, Gary Evans, retired Vice President of University Advancement and George Bolon, a retired physics professor.
“This is a long overdue recognition, and entirely fitting honor,” Reynolds said. “This is a legacy that I think should be honored and celebrated.”
Bolon also spoke on how fitting it was for the PAC to be named after DuFresne, not only for his love of the performing arts, but also because the PAC was the first building to be constructed during DuFresne’s tenure as university president.
Bolon concluded his speech with thoughts about DuFresne.
“We are all better persons for having known Robert A. DuFresne,” Bolon said.
Following the speeches, the building was dedicated with the unveiling of a new sign by Olson, Reynolds and Barb DuFresne.
The Winona State University Warriors football team started spring practice in preparation for their upcoming 2019 season.
The Warriors, who missed the playoffs in 2018, finished 8-3 and are returning 17 starters from last year’s team.
The 2019 team will have 15 practices including the spring game on April 27. The Warriors, who lost 14 starters to injury during the 2018 season, are looking to put an injury-plagued season behind them.
Senior linebacker Nick Pridgeon, who suffered a knee injury in the second game of the 2018 season, said his goal for 2019 is to stay healthy.
“Really just comeback strong,” Pridgeon said. “Just really finish out the season.”
Pridgeon said he should be cleared from his ACL injury by mid-summer.
Tom Sawyer, WSU’s head football coach, said the future is bright this year.
“The silver lining is a lot of other kids got experience,” Sawyer said. “We got all of those kids that were injured they’re all back, plus the experience our other kids got.”
For three years, the Warriors have been in a trend of getting speed up front. Now, with more scholarship money, they were able to put the money to get higher-profile, larger athletes for the offensive line.
“Two years ago, we signed four kids, last year we signed five,” Sawyer said. This year, the Warriors have five additional guys coming, putting them over the 300 pound-average mark.
The Warriors, with their rebuilt offensive line, know they have a job to do, which is to be physical.
Joe Holtzclaw, offensive line coach, said his close-knit unit will be different.
“We want to protect the passer first and foremost,” Holtzclaw said.
When running the ball, Holtzclaw said the offensive line is physical by nature.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive assistant Lee Pronschinske, said he wants his group to continue flying around and cause turnovers.
“We always want to communicate, disrupt the ball and create turnovers,” Pronschinske said. “That’s big when the defense can get the offense the ball back on a short field.”
Pronschinske said he is already seeing the linebackers and defensive backs causing turnovers in practice.
“We haven’t been too handsy because we’re playing against our own teammates, so we don’t want to get too physical, maybe cause an injury,” Pronschinske said. “We’ve been playing off a little bit that way, but it’s still been nice to see our guys fly around.”
Pridgeon said the defense has to focus on their technique and it all starts with attention to detail and accountability.
“We have a young group but a lot of talent,” Pridgeon said. “A lot of leadership in the young group as well. Really our main focus going into the season is trying to do the best as we can and reach our full potential.”
Sawyer said he wants the preparation and planning to be right, to give them their best chance at a win.
“We just have to make sure we’re planning right, preparing them right and give us the best chance to win,” Sawyer said.
The Warriors start their 2019 season at Maxwell Field Saturday, Sept. 7, against Wayne State College of Wayne, Nebraska.
Winona State University held its first Sustainability Fair where students could talk to students, community members and businesses about sustainability.
The fair was February 27 and was held in the East Hall of Kryzsko Commons from 4-7 p.m.
Leah Dechant, a Winona State student and student worker for the sustainability office was one of the main planners of the fair.
“I always notice that students don’t really know much about sustainability,” Dechant said. “Or that we live in such a great area called Winona with all these options, they’re all local, organic, sustainable businesses, or companies that provide environmentally friendly options.”
She said the fair was designed to create a place for community members as well as students, faculty, and staff to get together in one place with a common theme of sustainability.
The fair showcased sustainable practices and ideas in and around Winona State.
There was no fee to attend the event and the booths were set up without a registration fee. Free snacks were also set out for people to enjoy and there was live music.
Jeanne Franz, a sustainability advisor and professor at Winona State said that Dechant reached out to people and businesses, and said, “No fee. If you want to come, please come.”
A banner was on a table being signed by people who came to the fair. One signature meant one pledge to live more sustainable.
Franz said 12 years ago, Winona State signed the president’s climate commitment that by the year 2050, Winona State will be carbon free or carbon neutral.
This means Winona State will not produce carbon more than is being consumed by the university.
Franz said Winona State has begun taking steps toward this goal.
Dechant said that there are other things that she would like to see on campus as well.
“I would love to see more sustainable technologies, buildings and projects on campus,” Dechant said.
Franz said, “A few years back the students voted themselves a green fee which has helped fund the sustainability office including a full-time person, Nathan Engstrom, whose job is completely devoted to sustainability.”
One exhibitor talked about what you can do with certain spices and home remedies for ailments.
He had made his own kombucha that he shared, as well as showed his dried herbs and spices that he had collected and foraged.
Dechant’s table was handing out reusable water bottles and seeds participants could plant.
“It’s not a hobby or lifestyle anymore,” Dechant said. “We need to change our ways.”
The Winona Public Library brought children books to Island City Brewery for the monthly Tales on Tap event.
On Wednesday, April 3 thePublic Library hosted Tales on Tap at Island City Brewery.
Tales on Tap occurs on the first Wednesday of every month. The library started the event in January.
According to Douglas Irwin, CEO of Island City Brewing Company the library hosts the event for no cost.
Samantha TerBeest, librarian, said the event is a fun and relaxing time for those who attend.
“The purpose is to provide adults with, one relaxation, and second, bring them back to childhood,” said TerBeest.
Leslie Albers, volunteer reader, read three children’s book that went along with the theme of coloring.
The books were “The Day the Crayons Quit,”“The Day the Crayons Came Home,” and “Red: A Crayon’s Story.”
Along with the readings, the library provided coloring pages, coloring utensils and a plate of meat and cheese.
There was also a chance to win an adult coloring book and coloring utensils.
Albers has been reading since she was a child. In college, she and her roommates would read English detective books aloud to each other.
Now she reads to her grand children.
“I have been gifted with the gift to gab,” said Albers.
Because of that gift, Albers said she loves to be in front of a microphone. Especially, if she is reading something.
She saw a poster in the library asking for volunteers to read.
Albers said she did not even think before she volunteered to read at the event.
There is not always an audience at Tales on Tab.
On Wednesday there were three tables full of people. After the first book was read there were only a few people sitting at the bar. None of these people took the coloring sheets or participated in the drawing for a coloring book.
TerBeest said some people find themselves at the brewery the same day the event is happening, and others mean to be there.
“I was telling (Albers), people are not going to listen to you,” TerBeest said. “They are going to do their own thing. Like these guys over there and the guy behind us, they will listen sometimes.”
Irwin said his staff has said the event is not very big.
“From what my staff is telling me, it seems like there wasn’t a big turn out for that event,” Irwin said.
TerBeest said in February the library had a pajama contest at the Tales on Tab event that she believed to have a good turnout. The prize was a $10 Target gift card.
As of now, the library is not planning on doing the Tales for Tab event over the summer months, according to TerBeest.
TerBeest said those who play Book Bingo want to have Wednesday nights back for that event.
TerBeest said the library may bring Tales on Tab back in the fall.
Editor’s note: The content of this article may be triggering if you have been or are sensitive to sexual assaults.
According to Winona State University’s Annual Safety Report, cases of sexual assault reported on campus are down from six in 2016 to three in 2017. Chris Cichosz, Winona State’s director of security, Lori Mikl WSU’s Title IX coordinator, students apart of the Gender Based Violence (GBV) organization and the annual campus climate survey say it doesn’t mean the assaults are down.
Mikl said just because reports are down on campus does not mean that sexual assaults are not happening as often. Cichosz and GBV students agreed.
“I don’t think the prevalence of sexual assault is down at all,” Mikl said. “I just think that students are right now a little more leery of coming forward.”
Mikl said the decrease in reports could be because of a few factors.
Mikl said one factor is how reporting assault is portrayed in the news media. She said there is backlash for victim/survivors who are coming forward.
GBV students, Molly Sarbacker, Jacob Hansen, Tom Cameron and Emma Severson said they agree with this statement.
Hansen said some of the reasons are the first football game, homecoming, welcome week and the warm weather leading to more parties.
The U.S. Department of Education may be making changes to the Title IX rules for campuses.
These would include more rights for those who are accused of committing a sexual assault.
Tom Cameron, a sophomore student a part of GBV, said he has high hopes for the future.
“We can’t really say any specifics so far just because this information is still in the works and we are still figuring out how we can go about this,” Cameron said. “But the future is looking good. We can say that for sure. We’re definitely brainstorming everything we can and all the options for right now.”
In order to better understand what life is like for a veteran in a college setting, Army veteran and Winona State student Sara Manning discussed how she feels in an environment where she is surrounded by younger, and often non-military-affiliated, peers.
Manning offered her take to help other students understand the difficulty veterans face in putting themselves through college.
Off in the distance from where Manning sat during an interview, a car backfired. Her eyes darted to its place of origin and she disappeared into thought. She was overseas again.
“Muscle memory,” Manning said, pressing her fingers to her neck to check her pulse.
According to Britani Woodworth from Winona State’s Veterans Affairs office, around 200 members of the armed forces enroll at the school following deployment. For many of them, this is a bookend to life-changing circumstances, and sometimes their readjustment to private citizenship is more difficult than they originally imagined.
“I would say it changed me for the worst,” Manning, 33, said, speaking about her deployment in Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. “I’m still in transition. I’m not the person I once was. My interpersonal skills have narrowed and I don’t really trust groups of people.”
Manning’s deployment lasted 16 months, which saw her working as military police, traveling to U.S.-occupied countries and detaining soldiers deemed no longer fit to serve.
“I’ve always been comfortable with discipline,” Manning said.
Whether it is removing soldiers from active duty or doing school work, discipline is credited as one of her inspirations to go to college.
On if she is comfortable being in an environment where she is more world-weary than the young populace of a college campus, Manning said, “Deployment changed my mentality, and I think that affected my integration into the college community. My personal bubble is pretty small and it takes me awhile to trust people.”
According to Woodworth, who is also a student along with being a staff member in the Veterans Affairs office, it is common for veterans to have trouble integrating into a college community following deployment.
“There’s a hard adjustment for people in the military coming back from a deployment, (and) back into civilian life,” Woodworth said. “The normalcy of everything is really hard for some people.”
Manning also discussed how being a veteran influences her role as a college student.
“It is very… I don’t know if surreal describes it,” Manning said. “I definitely do not identify with anybody there, even the professors. So it’s very intimidating in a way that I just don’t know how to function …”
Along with the aforementioned difficulties, Manning referenced her son as an added obstacle in terms of her role as as a student.
“I also have a child,” Manning continued, “so that makes it even harder to (engage) people younger than me, because they assume that because I’m in a class with them, I’m able to freely able to use my time … and that’s just not something I can do.”
Similar to her earlier comments, Manning again discussed discipline and how it appears to be more instrumental to her than her classmates.
“The biggest challenge is having other people understand discipline,” Manning said. “Other students seem nonchalant with what they’re doing, and it’s kind of on a back-burner, whereas I’ve been trained that if (something) is going to get done and done right, it’s going to take a lot of time, a lot of effort and less procrastination.”
Manning elaborated her thoughts on procrastination and how it negatively impacts work that needs to be done.
“The more you procrastinate, the less chance you have to get it done,” Manning said. “Which should be obvious, but not to a lot of people I’ve seen so far at universities.”
Woodworth, too, discussed the difference in discipline she notices between veterans and non-military-affiliated students.
“When I got back from my basic and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) training … and started into school, I noticed … people are on their phones, distracted,” Woodworth said. “ (They) would (also) start packing up their stuff before the teacher was done talking. Like you can’t wait for them to finish their words?”
Perhaps because of her level of discipline, Manning remarked she sometimes feels out of place in an educational setting.
“There’s times where I definitely feel out of place,” Manning said. “I resonate more with the teachers than I do with the students, so that might tell you something.”
Woodworth said many veterans find difficulty in finding a sense of purpose in civilian—and by extension, college—life.
“When you’re in a deployment setting for several months, you always have a purpose,” Woodworth said. “You always have strict things to do and then when you get back into civilian life, it’s more laid back, especially going to college.”
Woodworth suggested feelings of alienation may be created by the individual and not their environment.
“I feel like maybe we alienate ourselves and we tend to feel like we’re more different than we actually are,” Woodworth said. “Coming from a deployment aspect, there probably is some that exists, because you see things you know other people aren’t going to see unless they’re over there … But when it comes down to it, we’re not that different.”
Despite being 33, Manning said she doesn’t always feel different than her mostly younger peers, but she does notice she comes from a different generation.
“I don’t feel any older than … a lot of students, but there are some aspects where I feel older,” Manning said. “A lot of these students feel things need to be handed to them, whereas when I grew up things needed to be earned.”
Manning drew from her upbringing as the root of her discipline and how it continues to reflect the way she conducts her work.
“‘Earn your keep’ was a big phrase or saying when I grew up, “ Manning said. “A lot of attitudes from my age to these new kids have changed significantly, and there might be an influence with the whole military career, because that’s an added disciplinary area that a lot of these kids won’t ever have.”
Though there is a gap between a veteran like Manning and those who are not in the military, Manning said she is okay being different in that regard.
“I’m always trying to adapt and overcome,” Manning said.
With Black History Month underway, Winona State University’s Film Studies will be partnering with the Department of Inclusion and Diversity to sponsor a film series showcasing select films by filmmaker Spike Lee.
The series, titled “Resilience & Resistance: The Films of Spike Lee,” begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, with the Academy Award-nominated feature for Best Picture and Best Director “BlacKkKlansman”.
Winona State English and film professor J Paul Johnson, whose course “Directors/Stars: Spike Lee” will be curating the series, commented on the reasoning behind choosing specifically Lee for a film series.
“We want to celebrate Black History Month by looking at the career and accomplishments of one of the most celebrated, important and influential of all African American filmmakers across the 20th and 21st centuries,” Johnson said. “(Lee’s) work is especially timely given the success of ‘BlacKkKlansman.”
The films selected in addition to “BlacKkKlansman”—“Four Little Girls,” “Crooklyn,” “Do the Right Thing” and “Inside Man”—are, as Johnson describes, meant to showcase the range of Lee’s career, spanning from his political works like “BlacKkKlansman” and “Do the Right Thing,” to his exercise in mainstream thriller filmmaking with “Inside Man.”
“Lee really has a strong body of work,” Johnson said. “And that’s something that can hold up a whole film series.”
Talks for the series began shortly after the hiring of Inclusion and Diversity director Jonathan Locust, who Johnson was interested in partnering on programming for the school upon meeting him.
Regarding his thoughts on the series, Locust expressed excitement at the prospect of Lee being the subject matter of an entire film series.
“Spike Lee (is) one of my favorite directors, he’s also produced some of my favorite movies I grew up with,” Locust said.
Locust expressed excitement in regards to the partnership between Inclusion and Diversity and Film Studies.
“Finding out there was a class being taught (on Lee), and being asked to collaborate, it just made sense,” Locust said. “These are the types of things that Inclusion and Diversity wants to be involved in.”
Locust said the range of the films selected will help identify with a diverse audience.
“No matter who you are, you should be able to find something,” Locust said. “Even though the films are being shown during Black History Month, these aren’t necessarily Black History Month films.”
In regards to the purpose of the series, Johnson commented on the lack of showings for Spike Lee films in Winona.
“I think it would be great if our community could have the opportunity to take a look at once again and celebrate the incredible work he has done over his career,” Johnson said.
Locust himself voiced a lesson audiences should take away from the series as whole.
“I think there is a common perception that everybody in the industry is just white,” Locust said. “… it’s important for people to see that there are films being made by under-represented groups.”
Even though this series is the only planned partnership between the two groups, both Johnson and Locust expressed interest for Inclusion and Diversity and Film Studies to collaborate again in the future.
“I hope Film Studies can keep partnering with Inclusion and Diversity on either Black History Month programming or Women’s History Month programming in the future,” Johnson said. “That could be a pretty exciting avenue for us.”
As for Locust, he referred to one of the objectives of Inclusion and Diversity as the compass for a future partnership.
“The goal is you want to try to meet as many people and engulf yourself in different cultures,” Locust said. “We want to continue having the film series and working with Dr. Johnson and other faculty and asking, ‘Who are other directors we need to be looking at?”
In addition to “BlacKkKlansman,” the subsequent films in “Resilience & Resistance: The Films of Spike Lee” will be showing every Monday and Thursday at 7 p.m., respectively, until the end of February in the auditorium of Winona State’s Science Laboratory Center. All film admissions are free and open to the public.
In the frigid winters of Minnesota, a popular way to escape the freezing temperatures of the North is watching movies.
And Winona has its own film festival to do just that.
The Frozen River Film Festival is a documentary film festival held annually in Winona Minnesota.
The festival recently concluded its 13th season, drawing in about 3,000 attendees.
Frozen River included five days of events, Feb. 7 to Feb. 11, on the last day an award ceremony honored some of the most popular films.
Each year, the festival features documentary films whose subjects focus on local, regional and world importance.
Festival director Sara Enzenauer said. “Planning for the festival is a year-long process. A lot of the heavy lifting takes place a few months before the actual dates, but there is a lot we are trying to do in the offseason.”
This year is Enzenauer’s first as festival director.
She started as an intern while sew was a Winona State University student, with a film minor, working her way up from intern to director.
Along with offering a wide array of films for moviegoers to watch, the festival included live music, artisan foods, and a vendor fair.
Attendees had a choice of 70 films to attend in different venues across town including Winona 7 theatre, Winona State University, St. Mary’s University and Island City Brewing Company.
One patron, Craig Thompson, said he has been attending since the festival started in 2005.
Thompson said he thought one of the best things about coming to the festival was learning about the variety of topics and issues the films covered.
Frozen River Film Festival is a nonprofit organization that uses donations and fundraising to pay for the films, guest lodgings, and venues.
According to Enzenauer, the budget for this year’s festival was $116,000.
“Our fiscal year starts in May and ends in Aril, “Enzenauer said, “so a lot of our spending takes place on promised funds, or what we think we are going to make in tickets. It’s a very interesting balancing act!”
In, Enzenauer’s first year as festival director was a success.
“We are all really pleased with how the festival went,” Enzenauer said. “I was worried that the numbers would drop quite a bit since it was a big transition year, but we were able to keep things pretty steady”.
Malinda Schmiechen, a regular patron of Frozen River, recalled how some films she has watched at the festival have changed her life.
“One year the theme was garbage,”Schmiechen said. There was a film about recycling that changed my life,” Schmiechen said.
One of the complaints heard at the festival was that it was impossible to see every film and that audiences had to pick which to attend.
Overall, the festival holds a sense of education and community to many of the patrons.
“I like to be challenged and learn about things,” Schmiechen said.
Enzenauer said Frozen River Film Festival takes all year to plan, so just days after this year’s festival has ended, she and the festival committee are already beginning to plan for Frozen River 2019.
“It was a little bare bones this year, and there is room for a lot of improvement,” said Enzenauer.
The festival committee plans to work more on their consistency, organization and communication for next year.
Getting to the National Football League from a division two program is not impossible.
Out of 1696 players in the league, 120 come from D2 schools, according to Hero Sports.
Some make a big impact, many don’t, but to even be on a practice squad will make the athlete a league minimum $7,200 per week.
This equates to around $150,000 for the regular season alone – quite the entry-level pay wage for a 23-year-old.
Meet Andrew Spencer, a 23-year-old student/athlete at Winona State University who majors in recreational tourism – a degree that earns an average of $40,000 a year.
If he had to pick between careers, Spencer said he is interested in the former.
This past season, Spencer was a first-team All-American on numerous publications, earned NSIC Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors and captained a 10-2 Winona State team that forced the second most turnovers in all of NCAA football – D1 included.
Because of these accomplishments, Spencer’s recreational tourism degree may have to wait because he has signed an agent and is training for the NFL combine at the end of February.
“That’s the only occupation I want to do,” Spencer said.
If all goes well, he may join his cousin, Clay Harbor, who plays for the New Orleans Saints and has enjoyed a 10-year career in the league.
Spencer said his driving force throughout this journey is to reimburse those who have invested in him; a shortlist that starts with his mother.
Spencer was born to a single mother with many siblings and not much money to go around.
His father has been incarcerated his whole life.
That is not something he gives much energy to – he said he would rather focus on what his Mom has provided.
“We kind of struggled a lot. We had to grind for money,” Spencer said. “I just think this is how life came out for us. We had it harder than other people, but I feel like this is just hard work paying off.”
Spencer described taking care of his mother with his first check not as something he wants to do, but something he is going to do.
“I just have to do it,” Spencer said. “My mom gave me a good life… she’s just a blue-collar woman who worked hard. She got put in a s*** position, I’m gonna pay her back,” Spencer said laughing.
Loyalty is important to Spencer.
He said it took a community to get him to where he is today and is committed to giving a return on others’ investments in him.
“I got a lot of help and support from my friend’s families so I pay a lot of respect to them for actually getting me to this spot,” Spencer said.
Among those friends is a man who has seen Spencer’s development from the beginning, high school and college teammate, Justin Bergeron.
“He just always had that mentality whether it was pickup basketball in the driveway, football, golf, video games, it was like he was going to win,” Bergeron said. “That’s something that’s always been in him and that’s cool to see.”
It’s never been a question for Bergeron that Spencer is made for sports, but what has increased dramatically over the years is the maturation of Andrew Spencer.
“Along with his maturity changing, the seriousness of his engagement with understanding the purpose of working out and the importance of doing the little things right,” Bergeron said.
Spencer earned second-team All NSIC honors his junior year and Bergeron said this lit a fire under him.
“That’s something that just hit him like, ‘I’m way better than that, something needs to change’,” Bergeron said.
Winona State head football coach Tom Sawyer said he recalls recruiting an immature high school kid with infinite potential.
“I think he’s one of the biggest success stories that we’ve had,” Sawyer said. “I don’t think very many people gave him a chance to get a college degree and play at this level because he didn’t understand the importance of a college degree at that point.”
Sawyer said Spencer came to Winona State as a kid with tons of energy, but developing into a man with direction has been a process.
“We saw the transformation take place. We saw him start to grow as a student and as an athlete,” Sawyer said. “He all of a sudden realized people were looking at him for answers instead of just playing. That’s when he started to become a complete athlete.”
Sawyer explained once Spencer started to focus on the technique of the game, the whole thing opened up for him.
“One is the academic piece – he understood that education is important, then he started understanding technique and doing things right is important, now the culmination of that is one of our most decorated student-athletes we’ve ever had here.”
Heading into the combine in the next few weeks, Winona State defensive backs coach Brian Curtin explained the importance of testing well and stressed the importance of Spencer believing in himself.
“He needs to understand that he can play at that level and have that confidence to go out there and not get caught up in ‘this guy played here that guy played there.’ Just get out there and play ball,” Curtin said.
Spencer said he is confident in his abilities. He admitted to being concerned about his 40-yard dash.
NFL scouts don’t really give D2 guys the benefit of the doubt, so it’s imperative Spencer uses these upcoming weeks wisely.
“We were just there to help him with the football part, now he has people to help him with the combine,” Curtin said. “It’s like in school when they teach for the test, that’s what he’ll be doing for the next couple months is preparing for that test.”