Defining moment: The meaning of mediocrity
Despite average grades Farmington football captain Godrey Mpetey discovers whether his character will be enough for his future.
By Tegan LaBerge | Royal Report
Godfrey Mpetey, a senior at Farmington High School, heaved his bulky, 230-pound frame out into his desk.
“Godfrey Mpetey to the principal’s office, Godfrey Mpetey to the principal’s office!”
The shrill, robotic voice of the school’s ancient sound system echoed in the air. Godfrey slowly stood up, beads of sweat glistening on his forehead. His fifth hour Tuesday Spanish class fell silent.
Godfrey’s brain felt numb. Did administration discover he hadn’t bought his trimester parking pass? Or worse, had they heard about the test he cheated on last semester? He started down the hall, his 6’ frame lumbering like a lackadaisical grizzly. He passed rows of orange and black lockers and abruptly stopped in front of the athletic trophy case. Four years of his fondest football and wrestling memories shimmered behind the glass. He recalled the momentous feeling of beating the state’s seeded wrestler earlier that year and the thrill of his regional final match.
Most of Godfrey’s buddies had already signed to college athletic programs and couldn’t wait for high school to be over. Most were headed out of state to schools like the University of North Dakota and South Dakota School of Mines. During lunch, his friends speculated about college football, college girls and college parties. Uninterested, Godfrey just smiled and nodded along. He had no idea what he was going to do after graduation.
Senior captain of both the football and wrestling teams and infamously known for his easy-going demeanor, Godfrey was popular. His friends often teased him for being “girl shy” because he refused to date even though his elementary school crush was sweet on him. He was too busy, he told them. And he was busy. Even though he was well liked, Godfrey was mostly known for his work ethic. He put in extra hours in the weight room when other guys were busy goofing off and spent time with his family on the weekend.
As a freshman he tried out for the wrestling team on a whim and by his senior year led his team in victories. He hadn’t always been at the top of the pack in football, either, but ever since switching to defense he had learned to use his above-average size to his advantage. That fall he had attracted attention from a few local DIII schools including Bethel University and Augsburg College.
Many people, including his family, expected Godfrey to make a quick decision about going to college. His older sister Geraldine Mpetey, had called him earlier that week.
She was firm, “Daddy needs to know your decision. You’re taking too much time!”
But unlike Geraldine who received a substantial scholarship to attend Bethel University in St. Paul, Godfrey hasn’t earned any scholarships, financial aid, or grants from schools. Even sports were of little help since DIII programs don’t offer athletic scholarships. Sure he’d done well enough in high school but even he knew that hard work doesn’t always pay out.
Godfrey’s mind spun as he trudged towards the principal’s office. The sweat on his forehead dribbled down his face and pooled around the collar of his hoodie. He paused outside the office and placed his hand on the cool, dark, oak door. Taking a deep breath, he reached for the handle and stepped inside.
“Hey Godfrey!” Jimmy Miller, the assistant head football coach at Bethel University, boom. He stuck out his hand and flashed a wide grin. Godfrey was momentarily stunned. He had visited Bethel before, mostly because of his older sister, but, thrown-off by the school’s lack of diversity, hadn’t given it a second thought. As one of the only black students at Farmington High, Godfrey was particularly conscious of Bethel’s mostly-white student body. Coach Miller looked at Godfrey expectantly, “Hey man, you have a minute to talk?”