A lot has changed in one year for Noah Weimert.
At this point in 2018, the future of the McDonell football program was unclear at best. Fast forward to Monday and its biggest player was making a big commitment, signing to play collegiately at Vermilion Community College in Ely, Minnesota.
Weimert played both ways on the line for the Macks in their first year of 8-man football this past fall and is expected to play in the trenches in college for the Ironmen, who play in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference as a part of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time and I never dreamed it actually was going to happen,” Weimert said. “Now I’m here and it’s a dream come true.”
Weimert played as a sophomore for the Macks during the program’s final season to date of 11-man football in 2016. The program was set to jump into 8-man in 2017, but canceled the season weeks before the start of practice due to a low number of players. The school announced it would be fielding an 8-man team last spring and Weimert was one of a handful of seniors on the roster and the one with the most varsity experience.
“He loves football, that’s the one thing that sticks out to me as far as him as a player,” McDonell coach Jason Cox said of Weimert. “He was very excited every day at practice, which is something not everybody is always about is to go out and practice. But he’ll get up for practices and games and get everybody else motivated. He’s definitely a leader, somebody people can definitely look up to.”
Weimert reached out to the Vermilion coaching staff after being accepted to the school, where he will pursue schooling in law enforcement. After opening up the communication with the staff, he quickly found a home with the Ironmen.
“It came up out of nowhere and here I am,” Weimert said.
McDonell struggled in its first season of 8-man football, posting an 0-9 record before defeating New Auburn 36-34 in an exhibition game to close the season. Weimert said the biggest thing he would take from his senior season was to keep playing hard, no matter the situation.
“(He) didn’t get a lot of glory from being on the offensive and defense line, but never complained about it. Just went out there and worked hard,” Cox said. “He does that on the field and in the classroom he’s a good student as well. He’s somebody that does things the right way.”
Weimert’s commitment also represents an important step for the McDonell program as it concludes its first year of 8-man. The game of 8-man football is growing throughout Wisconsin with Cloverwood Conference schools Gilman and Greenwood committing to make the change beginning with the 2020 season. But there are still many stigmas associated with the brand of football, one of which being that players cannot compete in it if they wish to continue to play football in college.
Cox hopes Weimert’s signing can help to reverse those ideas.
“This just goes to show that if you’re a good player and you can show that, there’s going to be film on you and you can show that film to a coach and even if they don’t watch a lot of your games you can showcase yourself,” Cox said. “If you’re good enough you’ll be able to play at the college level, regardless of whether it’s 8-man or 11-man.”
Weimert’s football fulfillments for the Macks aren’t quite done yet, though. The senior has been invited to play in the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Eight-Man All-Star Game this summer in Oshkosh.
For Weimert, he went from the heartbreak of missing out on a season of the sport he loves to seeing it return to being able to continue playing football in college.
“It’s great to see him have this opportunity because I know how much he loves the game. I know it killed him to not have a season last year,” Cox said. “So to have a senior season of football and to be able to play again in college is a great opportunity for him.”
“(He) didn’t get a lot of glory from being on the offensive and defense line, but never complained about it. Just went out there and worked hard. He does that on the field and in the classroom he’s a good student as well. He’s somebody that does things the right way.” - McDonell coach Jason Cox, on Noah Weimert