After donning his purple-and-white Lords uniform for the final time last fall, Brett Williams '13 is back on the gridiron—this time, professionally—as a running back with the Osnabruck Tigers in Germany.
Part of the German Football League 2, the country’s second-most elite American football league, the Tigers recruited Kenyon’s top ball-carrier the day after he joined a social network of aspiring pro-football players. Williams, a three-time All-North Coast Athletic Conference selection who led the Lords to their best season in seven years, already is making his presence known with the Tigers. In Osnabruck’s season opener, he scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
For the budding writer, who never before has traveled outside the U.S., it is an adventure worthy of a first novel—or at least, Williams said, a short story. “I hope to mine some writing material about my experience as an American abroad playing professional football,” said Williams, who is drawing from his time at Kenyon to write another story about a Division III football program. “Imagine Chad Harbach’s recent novel, The Art of Fielding, but with football and actual knowledge of how a small-school program works.”
As one of the few English majors on Kenyon’s football roster, Williams often tapped into humanities concepts of “Spartan mentality” and “pseudoandreia”—false courage in battle—before taking the field, choosing to forgo rowdy pre-game rituals for a solitary moment of prayer. While a nickname like “The Sad Poet” does not strike fear into his opponents, Williams lets his bruising running style do the talking—rushing for more than 1,000 yards and scoring seven touchdowns his senior season.
“I really hate the dumb-jock stereotype and it’s something that I try to break down,” Williams said of his interests off the field, which include an appearance in the campus production of Icarus and Aria. “I don’t want people to see me as just a football player. It’s very important for people to know that—especially at Kenyon—a football player is not a stereotype.”
The Chesterland, Ohio, native credits living and learning in Kenyon’s tight-knit community of “extremely intelligent individuals” with preparing him for his new chapter overseas. “I am confident that this learning will translate to the world outside of Kenyon, and in dealing with different types of people,” Williams said, citing his professors, coaches and classmates with teaching him about “life and how to live it.”
After Germany, Williams plans to attend graduate school with hopes of finding inspiration for future writing projects. Calling his stint with the Tigers “a one-shot deal,” Williams welcomes the possibility of an extended contract but added he has other goals. “I still need a good amount of my own experience to write well, I think,” he said. “From what I have learned from professors (P.F.) Kluge and (David) Lynn, experience is one of the most important things a writer can have.”