September 15, 2004

Romney Just Another Interesting Part to a New Look Football Team

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A junior biology major, and a wide receiver on the Varsity football team, I suppose Brian Romney could be described as “committed.” A student with medical school aspirations, Romney was all set to go from Snow Junior College to Utah, when Cornell came calling in late May. With his grades, his background, and his athletic ability (he led the nation in receptions per game during his rookie collegiate season), Romney snagged a spot in the Class of 2006.

And while the prospect of finishing his college career at an Ivy League school left him drooling, he knew there was just one roadblock in the way.

His wife.

(Then again, perhaps committed isn’t a strong enough word to describe Romney.)

Married last December, during his sophomore year at Snow, Romney knew he couldn’t make the move without his wife. So he set off to work, convincing her that this was an opportunity they should take. Yet, as someone who had little knowledge of the Northeast, the concepts seemed foreign to her at first.

“She didn’t know what the Ivy League was,” Romney recalled of his wife’s initial reaction. “I told her ‘Cornell’ and I just got this blank stare.”

After a quick explanation, and rattling off some of the other Ivy League schools, however, his wife agreed that he couldn’t pass up the opportunity, and the couple was on their way to Ithaca. Now, Romney spends his days at class, his afternoons in practice, and his nights at home. But that doesn’t mean things have been completely normal.

“My first day here I had to spend time doing medical clearance with the freshmen,” he said. “At first it was kind of awkward. They were like, ‘You’re coming in as a junior and you’re married already?'”

But as things have rolled along, Romney has carved out a niche for himself on the team, fitting in with older players like Chad Nice and Trent Carvolth, while providing leadership and depth to the young receiving corps. All in all, he seems to be a perfect compliment to Knowles’ mission to sellout Scheollkopf on September 25th, rebuild Cornell’s football program, and convert the locals into the fold of Big Red fandom. Of course, Romney also knows a thing or two about missions and converting locals; as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he’s already gone on perhaps the greatest mission of his life. Spreading God’s word in Romania.

(I did mention he was committed, right?)

In between his freshman and sophomore years at Snow (and before getting hitched), Brian spent two years in Romania, doing mission work, teaching English, volunteering in small villages, and brushing up on one of Europe’s oldest (and toughest) languages. His days – which started at 6:30 a.m., and didn’t finish up until around 10 p.m. – were long and filled with memorable experiences.

“I made a lot of mistakes with the language,” Romney said. “I was told to speak as much as I could, and if you slaughtered the language, you slaughtered the language.”

(“And I slaughtered the language,” he added, laughing.)

I suppose a married, junior, Mormon wide receiver is a bit different from the typical Cornell student (who now a days only seems to come in two flavors: over-opinionated liberal, or over-opinionated New-York-Stater). Yet somehow, on a team that’s trying everything from Yoga sessions, to ticketing area motorists, and to individual workouts with the men’s track coach to get into winning form – Romney’s like everything else that’s new this season – he just fits in.

Archived article by Matt Janiga