One of the special things about Bethel University is that many of those who are students there now had parents or other close family members that attended the school. They hear how special the university is and become enthralled by the incredible culture of the university, captivated at how its staff and students have a genuine love and affection for one another. It is one of the unique qualities about the institution that separates it from nearly every other school in the country.
It was that kind of culture that attracted starting quarterback Trey Anderson. The freshman was highly recruited in his junior year at White Bear Lake High School, but an ACL injury in his senior season caused some of that interest to wane as the high school star was forced to sit out the entire year. Many schools dropped their interest all together, but Trey found that one of the schools he was most interested in attending was happy to have him join their team – Bethel University.
“I got recruited by other schools, but I tore my ACL my senior year so some of those recruiting opportunities went away, which I see now was part of God’s plan. At Bethel they still wanted me and that I fit in well with their culture, and this was really where I wanted to come. I wanted to come to a place like this where they love each other, love the guys next to you, and so I definitely wanted to be a part of this.”
It was easy to make such a decision because his family had a long history at the school. Both his parents had attended Bethel, and he had spent a majority of his Saturday’s during football season watching his parents’ alma mater battle it out against their Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) foes. Trey loved watching how well the Royals played as a team, but one thing gained a lot more interest for him.
“It was great to see guys who loved God and loved playing football together, and that was so cool as a little kid. It was so appealing to me and something I wanted to do, to play here.”
While excited to come to Bethel University, Trey was a little nervous at first. An ACL tear is a very serious injury and there were some fears he had about how well the knee would hold up.
“I was kind of nervous about it. I did the nine months of physical therapy and then came back. I wasn’t fully ready to play football until a month before fall camp started. I wasn’t super comfortable at first because I hadn’t played football in over a year. So, it was kind of nerve wracking originally not trusting whether I was fully healthy or not. Making the jump from high school to college also made me nervous because the game moves much faster. I think I had a slower start because of that, but I am used to it now.”
Since Trey was an incoming freshman and hadn’t been under center in nearly a year, it was only natural that he began the season as the team’s backup quarterback, but he would not remain there for long. Royals head coach Steve Johnson had seen a lot of potential and talent in his freshman quarterback and was really excited about what he was already seeing in fall camp.
“Trey has so much talent and it is amazing how well he plays, especially for a guy who sat out all of last year. He has such a great set of skills and a real feel for the position,” Coach Johnson explained before the season began.
Three games into the 2015 campaign the freshman got his opportunity. An injury to senior Andrew Dzurik opened the door for Anderson and he made sure that door never closed. In his first start the freshman quarterback went 8-11 for 132-yards and 3 TDs against St. Olaf. He also added 43 more yards rushing and another score. It was an incredible start to his college career that earned his Coach’s praise.
“Trey played really well. He makes such smart decisions with the football and knows how to make plays with his arm and his legs. He is really tough to defend.”
As a starter he is now 3-1, losing only to Concordia-Moorhead on October 3. Trey has shown great efficiency, completing 60 percent of his passes and posting a gaudy 184.77 quarterback efficiency rating. He has thrown 9 touchdowns this season, while only throwing a single interception. Add to it 220 yards rushing and 4 TDs and it is easy to see why the coaching staff has so much confidence in him. The prospect of him being under center for the next four years has to have offensive coordinator Greg Peterson smiling from ear-to-ear.
Clearly Anderson’s skill set makes him a great addition to the team, but his fitting in to the Bethel University culture goes way beyond throwing touchdown passes. Trey wanted to come to Bethel because he loved the culture of service to Jesus Christ and comradery that comes with being a part of this team.
“Playing football is so amazing here. It’s not about being an individual on this team. It’s about serving your teammates. You have to do your own job and you’re not better than anyone else. It’s just about playing your best, and your best is all anyone is asking from you.”
Consider that when he became the team’s starter he had made just five throws in a game situation in the past year. All five attempts came in relief in games, and he admits he was a bit rusty, but his teammates were quick to show him that they had the ultimate confidence in him to lead this team, even if he had his own concerns.
“It was a little intimidating at first, because I only knew the guys for like a month before that, but they were great and gave their full support. It was still a little nerve wracking because I still hadn’t devoted the same amount of time into the Bethel program that they had. I just wanted to do my best for them.”
Trey openly admits that he entered the season with the goal of being the starting quarterback, but it was a bit of a surprise when he became the permanent starter, especially when it happened so early. Now he is having to devote a lot more of his time to preparing for each game, and is relishing the opportunity to show that he belongs as the leader of the Royals offense.
“It is a lot of learning, because I feel as a freshman you don’t know the guys really well, and don’t know exactly how to fit in. So every week I do work hard to know what we are doing. I totally buy into the message of what we want to do here and what the coaches are preaching so I can be a good member of the team.”
While Trey has enjoyed the culture of the Royals football team, his love of Bethel University goes way beyond that. He is finding that the oneness of the school and its commitment to being true followers of Christ has been everything he hoped for when he chose to come to Bethel.
“The thing I am amazed with is that everybody takes the time to get to know you, so I feel like you get to connect with people on a much deeper level than anywhere else. Some of the relationships I have made here are already deeper than the ones I made in four years of high school. That’s pretty cool how people are more willing to share about their life or to hold you accountable.”
Bethel University may have been the absolute perfect fit for Trey Anderson, but this is only because the two people that brought him into this world and raised him have helped to shape a very special young man that is a true star off the field as well as on. Trey’s parents really understood how to set a pathway of success for their son, and he fully recognizes that fact.
“My parents are really amazing and I am so blessed for how they raised me. They have never been too strict. They were like my friends but they also held me accountable. They kind of let me make mistakes on my own. They were there to caution me away, but when I did screw up they helped me learn from that. I think the freedom they gave me made me more independent and made me into a better guy.”
It is true that Bethel University is a very unique place for a young man to come and play football. Behind the philosophy of Coach Johnson the Royals are not only a team that wins games, but they are also a group of players that play hard for one another out of love for each other. Because the program is so unique it takes a special kind of player to fit in there. Trey Anderson is just that kind of player.
In just three months on the campus he has already made himself a great fixture on this Royals team and with the Bethel University community as a whole. There is no doubt that with him at the helm of this offense they will be quite proficient for the next four years and will win a lot of games. More importantly, the gates of hell will be forcefully challenged by incredible men like Trey Anderson. It is likely that the St. Thomas Tommies are not shaking at that thought, but clearly the Devil is. Praise the Lord.
By Robert Pannier