Jason Jellie ’95 knew that he wanted to play football after high school. He just didn’t want to do what everyone else did, which was to stay in upstate New York and play football for nearby St. Lawrence University.

Jellie asked his high school’s director of athletics if he could recommend a college. On Jellie’s behalf, he picked up the phone and called his friend, Springfield College Head Football Coach Mike DeLong ’75, telling him he can stop looking for his next free safety.

“It’s crazy. I ended up being a starter at free safety for three years for Coach DeLong,” Jellie said.

Everything at Springfield College was a fit for Jellie: the size, the academics, and the competitive football program. But it wasn’t just athletics. Jellie took academics seriously, graduating magna cum laude and being named scholar athlete of the year as a senior.

He constantly found himself having to balance working on campus, studying for class, and training to stay fit to compete at a high level.

“That discipline is something I’ve carried through in my professional career,” he said. “I don’t know that I was ever the most talented individual in any environment, whether it was academics, athletics, or professional. But I will outwork people.”

Jellie was awarded an academic scholarship—and would not have been able to attend Springfield College otherwise.

“That’s why I took the academic piece so seriously. It would always irritate me when guys would talk about not going to class. Somebody was paying for me to be here. I’m not going to waste their money by not going to class,” he said.

Because he was so affected by alumni giving, he understands how much that support means to today’s student-athletes.

“I give back to help somebody else who might have the same opportunities,” he said.

Whether it was beating Ithaca College on the opponent’s field for the first time in 19 years or “burning the old shoe” with DeLong, Jellie’s years as a football player were meaningful to him, and he wants to ensure they will continue that way for today’s student-athletes.