We are excited to present a new piece of featured content for Fifth Quarter. We have always had a love for college football in its entirety, but we definitely have a soft spot for NAIA football. Everyone has heard of NCAA, but its alternative, the NAIA, is gaining traction yearly. The NAIA also offers athletic scholarships unlike NCAA Division III, and there are some DAWGS in this division. We will be releasing a daily interview from an NAIA All-Conference Player. We hope you enjoy their stories.
Reed Levi Benedictine College
Reed is our inaugural player to start this series, and he has an experience to share. Reed has spent the last several seasons at Benedictine College and was a stud for the Ravens. Benedictine is located in Atchison, Kansas, and has been a force in NAIA Football. Reed is a HEart of America First Team guy at the TE position, not only in 2022 but in 2021 as well. This is his story.
What was the best moment of your NAIA career so far?
The best moment of my NAIA career has been the transition from Coach Wilcox to Coach Osborn. There is always a level of uncertainty with a new coach, but Coach Osborn came in with confidence and swagger, which helped rejuvenate our program. Coach Wilcox offered me much-needed lessons and wisdom to help me set goals for what I wanted in my football career. Coach Osborn has given me the tools and confidence to be a leader and competitor, both on and off the field. The accomplishments that our program has had, as well as mine, would not be possible without either of them. I remember going on the road to Grandview. We were down 28-6 at the half, and Coach Osborn turned it over to us older guys to refocus the team. He showed us that he trusted us, which sparked a great comeback that came up just short in the end. Despite that loss, it helped motivate our young team to make a run in the playoffs this last season.
What do you love most about the program you play for? Why should someone want to join your program?
I’ll give you three things: Culture, Community, and Facilities. Our team’s culture has been something that we have taken to heart. We have implemented a player-led team. The coaches trust the older guys to be leaders and hold the team accountable. This principle is rooted in the fact that we are all human, we all make mistakes. However, the older guys on the team have been through the mistakes that younger guys make and can be there to offer guidance and leadership to help them grow. The community in our program fosters a tight-knit group of guys. The advantage we have is young coaches. We have coaches who are taking classes with some of us. We have coaches who played with a couple of us older guys. These coaches get what we are going through because they have just been through it. They understand the pressure of being a college athlete, but they also care about who we are as men, and not just X’s and O’s. The facilities speak for themselves. We have a brand new weight room that was just finished this past summer. We have one of the top strength staff in the country. We have one of the top training staffs in the country. Everything about college football you can think of we have. A great locker room, a great training room, a great weight room. We have one of the best stadiums and game-day environments in the country. Packed tailgates and stands. And if you don’t believe me, come check it out for yourself on August 26th when we take on Morningside.
Can you tell us the amount of work and preparation it took to receive your All-Conference Honor?
The work and preparation are always the same for every season. The goal is always a conference championship, then a national championship. If we achieve those, individual accolades will follow. That’s the thing about great teams, the competition internally is so fierce that it pushes everyone around you. That’s the way it is every day up here. There is no time for slacking off because I know that we have guys who are working just as hard as me chomping at the bit for a spot. In that same light, I try to go the extra mile. I stay on campus over breaks so that I have more time to train and really focus on my craft. In the off-season, I meet with my position coach 3-4 times a week to go over coverages and run reads. We have summer workouts that start at 5 am each morning which pushes us both mentally and physically. I attack everything with full effort because we have so many guys on the team, which is why we had many individual accolades to show for it, as well as a conference championship.
Who would you say contributed to your success?
There are so many people that I could think of, but there are two who have been my rock through my four years here. My mother, Katie Levi, and my fiancé, Marissa Manning. My fiancé and I met during my freshman year at Benedictine. Since then, she has only missed being at a game in person because of COVID. She became a manager for the team sophomore year because she wanted to be a part of something special. That has blossomed into many road trips, babysitting Coach Osborn’s kids, lots and lots of practice and laundry, and many more great memories. She has challenged me to not only be the best player I can be but the best man I could be. My mother has been the strongest woman in my life. During my sophomore year, my father passed away from brain cancer. Since then she has shown nothing but grace and perseverance. She has not missed a game in my college career and even drove me up to Indiana Wesleyan when I couldn’t travel with the team due to the flu. These two have been a soft place to land when things didn’t go my way, like when I got benched sophomore year or when I tore my MCL last season.
What is your plan for life after football?
After football, I am planning to continue on and get my MBA. After that, I plan to attend law school and see where the future goes. Someone once told me the easiest way to make God laugh is to tell him your plan. I am excited about what the future may hold!
Can you tell us the best places to eat in your town/city? What else can you tell us about the town/city your campus is located at?
There’s a great bar and grill in town called Willie’s which is pretty popular. There and Subway are about the only places I eat in town, mainly because that is where a lot of people go. There is a fantastic couple in town, Brooke and Kurtis Genail. They run Strong Body Shop, and on top of doing great work, they are great people. There was a time this past season when one of our safeties blew a tire on the way home from team dinner. I called Kurtis, and he showed up within 5 minutes, took the tire, and in 30 minutes called to say that it was fixed. He did all of this out of the kindness of his heart. The guys in the shop will probably give me hell for saying that, but they have been a blessing in my life. The Genail’s always make sure that I am fed, my car is running, and that I am just doing okay, especially during the long football season.