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The Scarlet & Black

First-year athletes adjust to the collegiate level

By Sofia Carr

First year athletes have already made significant contributions to the Grinnell athletic scene, and are enjoying the transition to the college level. Photo by Isabel Torrence.

Incoming first year athletes can be an effective gauge of the future of a team. For Max Ehrlich ’23, the underclassmen on the football team are a beacon of hope for the Pioneers.

For the past decade of Erhrich’s life he has been playing on the offensive line for a variety of teams, including the varsity team at his high school for all four years. At Grinnell, he’s making a switch to tight end. “Football has always been a part of my life, it’s something that I kind of feel I belong in,” said Erhrich.

According to Ehrlich, having the team here has helped his transition to college life because of the community of support it fosters. He said, “football is a sport where you have to trust everybody else on the field on your team or else the play isn’t going to go well and you’re probably going to get hurt.”

Like most first years at any college, the idea of finding a community is a major stress-point. But for Ehrlich, both the upperclassmen and coaching staff have created a unique environment in which this stress is assuaged right off the bat. “I kind of figured it would be a lot more like I was a number for the first year or two,” he said. “But even Coach P and every one of the coaches is very invested in every single player… which wasn’t even a thing on my high school team.”

Ehrlich also feels as though the team is optimistic the future of the program. “[The team has] a little bit of a history of not doing so great,” he admits. “I know that we, [the first years], would have the ability to change that, it’s just sort of about how we put in the work.” The first years have one of the largest recruiting classes for football in recent history: an attempt to bring the football program to the next level. “Our freshman year, currently, isn’t necessarily better than everyone else, but by the time we are seniors we will be better than our senior class now,” he claimed.

The first year football players’ commitment to the sport is a sentiment echoed by Mack Trachtenberg ’23, who is a new member of the Grinnell open frisbee team.

Trachtenberg has played for a variety of teams including his high school team in the Bronx, New York, and a YCC — the Youth Club Championship team — practice squad for two years. He found frisbee through family friends, who encouraged him to join despite his apprehensions. “And ever since, it was the one sport I just fell in love with,” said Trachtenberg.

He feels optimistic about the team and believes that they have the opportunity to “develop the team and create a strong basis early on.” The team is chock-full of talent and devotion to the “spirit of the game,” which Trachtenberg described as a “much more relaxed and sort of thoughtful culture.”

Because of the self-arbitration that separates frisbee from most sports, Trachtenberg has found that frisbee teams, including the one here at Grinnell are “just an overall great environment to be in.”

As for the future of frisbee at Grinnell, Trachtenberg said he is encouraged by the first and second years on the team. “Further in the years we can create a good team that could probably have a really good showing, whether it be like in Iowa, or even in Nationals, probably,” he said.

With first-years like Ehrlich and Trachtenberg, who are motivated by a love for their sports, the future of the Grinnell College athletics programs is bright.

Beyond football and frisbee, first-years in a range of sports at Grinnell will likely make an impact this fall, adding dynamism to the Grinnell community outside the classroom.

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