Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kelley Bertrand's "Blood Makes The Grass Grow"

A few weeks ago 2004 Linfield graduate and All-Star Defensive End, Kelley Bertrand dropped me an e-mail. Kelley, who's currently a police officer in Beaverton, was having a restless night when he decided up open up his laptop and write a short story about his life playing football from the moment he found out that all he wanted to do was play football as a little guy to his time at Linfield where he tore his ACL the first game of the 2004 season. "Blood Makes The Grass Grow" takes you through "little guy" football to high school and how he miraculously found his way back to the field before the end of his season year at Linfield that saw him hoisting up the Bronze and Gold. For anyone that loves football and Linfield this is a must read from a great Linfield player.

Regarding Kelley, I hated writing the term "All-Star" in that first paragraph. In WC11's opinion I think there is little doubt that Kelley was the most complete defense lineman/players in the program in the past 16 years I've been around. 2004 was going to be a HUGE year for Kelley and I was 100% positive it was going to end with him being a 1st team All-American. He had all you can ask for in building a defensive player; size, speed, strength, a mean streak, and smarts.

It was crushing to see him go down to an ACL tear in the first game of the season and it felt like Linfield's defense was cursed (lost returning All-American Safety Ray Lions in the first game of the 2003 season). However, the end was like a Hollywood story. He defyed the odds, came back and played well on a torn ACL, separated his shoulder in the National Semi Final game vs Rowan, rubbed some dirt on it, and went on and bulldozed his way to the game clinching sack in the National Championship game vs Mary-Hardin Baylor. So in the end, I don't know if you would go back and change anything (Kelley probably has a different opinion).

Kelley will dive into that moment and much, much, more in "Blood Makes The Grass Grow". It's a great read for parents, former players, coaches, current and incoming 'Cats. It has something for every football and Linfield fan.

Here is an excerpt from Kelley's story on when the D1 offers didn't come after his senior year in High School and how he found Linfield:
Now that the season was over all there was left to do was sit back and wait for all the scholarship offers to roll in. Well that’s what I did. Wait and wait and wait and wait and wait. You see where this is going. The scholarships didn’t come in as I had hoped. I enjoyed multiple recruiting trips, but every time I kept hearing the coaches telling me how they wanted me to play for them, but they would like me to walk on and earn a scholarship later. Wow, I felt like someone had kicked me in the nuts. I was supposed to play for the University of Oregon just like my dad and when I found out that wasn’t going to happen I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t understand why the offers weren’t coming in like they were supposed to. I was a decorated high school player, having earned first team all league offense and defense my senior year. I even got selected to play in the annual Oregon Bowl (high school senior all-star game now called The Les Schwab Bowl).

Isn’t that what schools were looking for? Maybe that was it; maybe my playing days were over. No I wasn’t going to let that happen I was going to find a school that wanted me and I was going to continue to play.

I decided to take a trip down to a small division three school in McMinnville called Linfield College. I had heard about Linfield College before from a family friend and knew that they had a strong tradition of football. It took some time to make up my mind because I was swaying back and forth about the idea of walking on at the U of O or going to Linfield. I finally made my decision in May that I was going to attend Linfield. To this day I can honestly say that was the best decision I have ever made.
"Blood Makes the Grass Grow" is over 25 pages long and since it's so big WC11 decided to allow you to download a Word Document copy of Kelley's short story. Don't worry, it's safe to download, WC11 isn't trying to pull a fast one. This is an edited version of BMTGG as we had to cut a couple items out that were a little PG-13 but the story doesn't lose anything in the process.

Download Kelley Bertrand's: Blood Makes The Grass Grow


Anonymous said...

now THAT fired me up! I'm ready for the season to start. Thank you Kelley for sharing your great memories. Go 'Cats!

Anonymous said...

Go 'cats!