Beaver Falls, PA – It was not exactly the Army-Navy game, but when Geneva College and Frostburg State University hooked up on the gridiron in week one of the Division III college football season, it was a homecoming of sort for a pair of players. Prior to last Saturday’s kick-off, junior defensive back Ryan White from Geneva and freshman fullback Matt Rowe from Frostburg State took a moment to pose together for a picture alongside their respective head coaches. What was so special about these two young men that they would feel the need fraternize before the opening season kick-off? Less than a month earlier they were both far from home and helping defend the United States as members of the military.
White was just finishing up his fourth Marine tour of duty, including three stints in Afghanistan while Rowe was spending his time in the U.S. Air Force in Turkey. Both returned to the United States in time to begin training camp as members of their respective college teams. White, 24 years old, has been a member of the Geneva College football team for three years while Rowe is playing in his first year of college football player as a 25 year old.
In his final trip to Afghanistan, White spent the last months of his time in Afghanistan leading convoys by driving military trucks through the country. He has endured many different tasks while oversees as a member of the Military Police. “What these young men have done for our country is simply amazing,” says Geneva College head coach Geno DeMarco. “The sacrifices that have been made to help protect our freedom and allow us to do what we love to do is something that none of us should ever take for granted. We just thank the Lord that they were both able to return home safely and now have an opportunity to have some fun on the football field.”
The duo of White and Rowe returned soon enough to be a part of one of the wildest games in Geneva history. In the highest scoring game in 121 years of Geneva football, the Golden Tornadoes dropped a heartbreaking 56-53 decision to the Bobcats in the waning moments of the season opener. As difficult as it was for Geneva College and its football team to swallow an opening game loss, the realism of being back in the States and being around friends and family was still enough to make Ryan White smile.
Geneva College is a comprehensive Christian college of the arts, sciences and professional studies. Founded in the tradition of the Reformed Christian faith, Geneva prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society: work, family and the church. Geneva College’s philosophy of education is based on the Foundational Concepts of Christian Higher Education. Geneva is a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).