Game Summaries & Headlines.
The transition from high school to college life can be a challenge. Remember when you were 18 and struggled with where you were going to go to school after high school? The decision is not always, what you want to do with your life, but more how far you want to be from familiar surroundings.
For former Eagle football player Mitchell Shinskie, the chance to play football at the Division I level and receive an Ivy League education with the Columbia Lions is something that could not be passed on. Shinskie walked across the stage in Eagles Stadium in June of 2018 after an impressive football career for the GREEN. He left sleepy Stafford County for the BIG LIGHTS of New York City, and has already seemed to found a home for himself.
On Saturday morning, just hours after the Forge game against Highland Springs, I set out on a 361-mile journey. The goal was to see Shinskie play the Yale Bulldogs at the Yale Bowl in New Haven CT. An iconic venue that brought back tremendous memories for me of when I parked cars at Yale games, and for a few years, New York Giant Football games back in the 70’s.
Shinskie is in his sophomore season playing for a very young Columbia squad, and he has worked tirelessly to make his mark. The most shocking difference in the guy I used to call GRONK when he was playing for Coach Bill Brown was he has quickly grown into a man. When he was walking the Forge hallways, he was a strapping 6’3” 230 pounds. When he went to Lions training camp in the summer he reported at 280. “Chicken and protein shakes”, his mom told me during the game on Saturday. “Over the summer he lifted weights like it was a job”. The results had to make the Columbia coaching staff take notice.
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, Shinskie recorded one tackle playing along the D-line for the Lions in a 45-10 defeat. I must report that when Mitchell took down Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings late in the game, the stadium announcer must have been on lunch break because there was never a “tackle by Shinskie” announcement across the crisp Connecticut air. After mom pleaded, I offered to help make the call but we got nothing.
To Eagle Nation who remember Mrs. Shinskie from her Forge years, running the pre-game meals and halftime snacks for the “good guys”, I am happy to report she is still motivated and supportive as ever. Several times on Saturday, Shannon rose from her seat trying to get the Lion faithful to “make some noise” for the defense. It was a moment that had me thinking, the more things change…..the more they stay the same.
Columbia lost the game, but the day and the weekend was not spoiled. It was great to grab a few minutes with #95 in Columbia Blue & White outside the 104-year-old venue. While thanking me for coming, he wanted to know all about how The Forge was doing. “I would like to come down and see the guys” he said with a big smile as we talked. The smile told me he was comfortable and was enjoying the college experience. He also explained that school was “tough, but I like it” and he seemed to have adjusted to the big city life.
I told Mitch that my next trip, I have to see a Columbia home game. The Lions have one of the most modern stadiums on the east coast playing their home games at Robert K Kraft Field @ Wien (pronounced Ween) Stadium. “It’s great, I even love to go to practice there,” he explained.
The trip was long, the chat was short but it was so great to see ‘old #88 play again and see that he was happy. Only two years in, he is getting playing time and as he moves forward, his opportunities will grow. Once an Eagle, ALWAYS an Eagle, Shinskie certainly knows where he came from…but more importantly where he’s going