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Second Team Academic All-Big 12
“Too many times the society view is you have to be older to make a big impact. And the normality of it is, that in order for you to do big things in life, it takes a lot of years to build up to do that.”
After coaching at Kansas State University for nearly three decades, College Football Hall of Famer Bill Snyder’s name has become synonymous with the football program.
For Denzel Goolsby, it was Snyder’s approach of discussing life outside of football that had him interested in joining the football program.
“The best thing I took away from my visit was that Coach Snyder didn’t even get into football. We talked about life, what motivates you, what your goals are for life after football. That was what separated it; this coach cares about me as a person, not just me as a player,” he said.
Shortly after arriving in Manhattan, Goolsby received devastating news. His father had suffered a brain aneurism. The 18-year-old Goolsby traveled home to Wichita, Kansas to say his goodbyes.
“As a Division I football player, you get a lot of exposure to the point where people kind of define you with football. The biggest thing for me, once that happened [losing his father], I realized that there is so much more to life than football, how short and precious life really is. It was a motivating factor for me as far as what can I do now with my short years here on earth,” he said.
“He epitomizes that feeling of being able to give back.”
As Goolsby grew closer to his teammates, he learned that friend and team kicker Dylan Wilson was involved in the Big Brothers program. Goolsby recognized the impact that the time with kids was having on Wilson and wanted to find his own way to contribute. After enduring a lengthy process to be accepted into the program, Goolsby was paired with his little brother, Shannon.
“When I first met Shannon, he was really shy and very quiet. And then looking at him now, there’s times I can’t even get him to stop talking. I can FaceTime him and talk to him for a long time about anything in the world, and just seeing his face light up when he answers the phone … you know, it really doesn’t take that much effort to try and make someone’s day.
“I think that’s the best part about it, just seeing how something so small can have such a big impact on him. And then it’s a reminder to me as, you know, ‘Why can’t you do this more often?’” he said.
Goolsby’s actions have not got unnoticed by his teammates, as many other Wildcat student-athletes have joined the program, as well, and are continuing to make an impact on the community.
“The thing that is cool is that a lot of people on the team come from so many different backgrounds and that’s what you find with Big Brothers, too. Those kids have so many different things that they might be dealing with at home or school and so being able to have so many different guys that can relate, I think that’s what is special,” he said.
Snyder himself says that Goolsby’s actions off the field are what impresses him most about the young man and what makes him the ideal candidate to represent the university in this year’s Big 12 Champions for Life campaign.
“There is a significant number of things that he does that normally most young people would be hesitant to do. He’s taken on so much to help others. What has impressed me so much is he’s done it in a very humble fashion and in such a way that he doesn’t necessarily broadcast it everywhere, which tells me he’s doing it for the right reasons.
“He epitomizes that feeling of being able to give back. I appreciate him a great deal for it,” he said.
Goolsby, who was recently named the starting safety for the program, wants to continue to spread the message of giving back, especially among this younger generation.
“Too many times the society view is you have to be older to make a big impact. And the normality of it is, that in order for you to do big things in life, it takes a lot of years to build up to do that. You surround yourself with people that think like that and then it just makes everyone want to do it,” he said.
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