By Matt Haile —
Not often do you run into someone as versatile and hard working as senior football captain and safety Tyler Naatz (Menomonie, Wis.). A well-rounded athlete and an even more rounded student, Naatz, has spent his time at University of Wisconsin–Stout earning awards both on and off the field.
Tyler has been playing football here at Stout since freshmen year where he started out on the special teams unit. Within a year, he became the starting safety for the Blue Devils. Naatz has received All-Conference Honorable Mention in two of the last three years here, but to him, the sport of football is more than just tossing a ball around or taking down a wide receiver.
When asked what the one thing football has given him that he’ll walk away with, Naatz confidently answered friendship.
“There’s a lot of guys here on this team, and we’re all pretty tight,” he said. “These friendships will last more than just these four years here at Stout”.
Naatz also said that playing on the team has taught him the importance of time management, hard work and accountability. These attributes cannot only be seen on the field, but off the field in the classroom as well. Naatz is a Plastics Engineering major who currently maintains a 3.69 GPA. He has also been a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence every semester of his college career.
Earlier this season, Naatz was recognized for his hard work and dedication over the course of his career when his coaches nominated him for the National Footbal Foundation National-Scholar Athlete award.
Coaches are allowed to nominate one player for this award. Criteria for the NFF National-Scholar Athlete award are as follows: nominee must be a senior in their last year of eligibility with a GPA of 3.2 or higher, the candidate must also show outstanding football ability and must present strong leadership and community service. On being nominated, Naatz said it was a great honor just to be considered.
“I was very honored to get nominated for the award,” said Naatz. “Just being able to be selected for our team and be the guy that they’re putting forward as a good individual is pretty awesome”.
However, Naatz’s success hasn’t translated to team success this season, as Stout finds its record sitting at 1-3 heading into the toughest part of the year. The Blue Devils lost their first game against Dakota Wesleyan University on Sept. 6, a game Tyler and the team felt they could have won.
Since then the team has gone 1-2, with losses against Wartburg College on Sept. 20 and University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh on Oct. 4. The team’s only win came against Loras College on Sept.13.
Naatz and company aren’t wasting their time looking back at the past because they already have their minds set on the big picture; winning conference. Naatz said that he isn’t very big on stats and is willing to do anything he can to help the team become conference champs.
Blue Devils will take on University of Wisconsin–Whitewater on Oct. 11 for Stout’s homecoming. The Warhawks have been ranked No.1 in Division III for quite some time and are the defending NCAA Division III National Champions. Despite this tough match-up, Naatz is beyond excited for the final homecoming game of his collegiate career.
“It’ll be fun to have the crowd into it and hopefully there will be a lot of people there,” Naatz said. “Make sure you come out, support us and get loud!”