A letter to Laker Nation
Bart Williams scans the field for an open target in 2017. GVL / Emily Frye
Editor's note: With the career of GVSU football's all-time leader in pass yardage and touchdowns coming to a close, Bart Williams sends an exclusive farewell to the community he spent six years with.
The expectation of my college football career coming out of high school was highly surpassed by my football experience. Becoming the leading passer of touchdowns and yards in Grand Valley State school history is an unbelievable honor, but the records are not what made my experience so special; the feeling of putting on the pads with a hundred of my closest brothers to go win a football game was most satisfying. The joy that my family and extended family got to experience through tailgates, watching in the stands and (mainly) Facebook posts is what made playing so special. Developing a relationship with the coaches from being a lost 18-year-old freshman to an almost 24-year-old senior closing in on a Master’s degree has been incredible.
The lessons that Coach Matt Mitchell has taught us through his words and actions have given us tools to be successful for the rest of our lives. All of us seniors have left better men than we were when we came into the program, whether that be a six-year process or only a few months. Not everything was perfect, but we could never question the intentions. Football is the ultimate team sport, and here at GVSU we learned to trust and depend on one another. We learned how to bring each other up when we struggled. We learned how to praise those around us when we were successful. We learned how to play and act as a cohesive unit. We learned to attack the things that we HAD to do, so we could someday have the opportunity to do the things that we WANTED to do. We learned to be unselfish, and sacrificed personal interests for the betterment of the team.
Everything that we endured throughout our time was to go out and get a win on game day - especially at Lubbers Stadium. Some of the best moments of the film study would be when we scored a touchdown and, in the background, the entire student section would erupt in collective euphoria. That is what made our experience special; extra motivation to earn our opportunity to play in front of all of that.
Personally, I would like to shout out a select few. Trenden, Collin, Blake, Brett and Nathan – you guys made it special for me. The painted chests, the number six jerseys, the signs (Bartholomew 6:16 was a classic), everything you guys did for game days was phenomenal. All of Laker Nation was incredible and personally I would like to thank that particular group.
The support from my family and close family friends... thank you from the bottom of my heart. There is no way that I can repay you guys for everything you have done for me over the years. Also, a special thanks to my girlfriend, Chelsey, who has stuck it out for four seasons. Who sacrificed doing a lot of things to accommodate the life of a college athlete, and thank you for so much more.
We are going to miss it. There is no place in life where anyone can simulate the experience that we all went through. There are plenty of things that we wish we could have done better, but the great things that we were able to accomplish collectively and individually outweigh any failure we had in our time. The brotherhood we developed, the skills we have learned and connections we have made will be with us forever.
Thank you Laker Nation.