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Miami Dolphins fullback Alec Ingold partners with St. Norbert Athletics

Miami Dolphins fullback Alec Ingold, second from left, was presented with a St. Norbert College football jersey by Hannah Starr, left, a senior member of the Green Knights women’s tennis team; Jake Warpinski, a senior member of the men’s golf team; and Cam Fuller, director of Athletics. Ingold culminated a partnership with St. Norbert College Athletics with a presentation on April 4 in the Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center on campus. (St. Norbert College Athletics Photo | Special to On Mission)

Former Badgers’ standout offers leadership principles for success on and off the field

By Jeff Kurowski | On Mission

DE PERE — Miami Dolphins fullback Alec Ingold’s list of accomplishments includes being a two-time nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, a Pro Bowl selection this past season and a best-selling Amazon author. 

While those accolades are part of his story, he said that they don’t define him.

“(I don’t like speaker) introductions because everyone always says, ‘This is what he did,’” Ingold told an audience comprised of mostly student-athletes on April 4 at the Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center on the St. Norbert College campus. “Those are things I’ve done, but it’s not who I am.”

Ingold’s presentation culminated a partnership with St. Norbert College Athletics that began with a kickoff online video session in August with Green Knights’ coaches. In September, Ingold — who grew up in Suamico and was a standout in both football and wrestling at Bay Port High School — connected on video with the student-athletes. 

Third and fourth sessions were held in October and February, respectively, with team captains and Student Advisory Committee members.

The five-year NFL pro, who played collegiately for the Wisconsin Badgers, initiated the partnership, said Morgan Stacey, senior woman administrator for St. Norbert Athletics and assistant coach for the college’s women’s hockey team.

“He reached out to us just over a year ago. He had written a book and was looking to get into some leadership development for student-athletes and, obviously, he has ties to the Green Bay area, so we thought it would be a great fit,” Stacey told On Mission.

A plan was developed for the 2023-2024 academic year, she said.

“A big part of what he talks about is faith integration and purpose, ‘What’s your why on the field?’ and also, ‘What’s your why off of it?’ personal development, not just athletics,” said Stacey, who organized the partnership.

“It’s learning the lessons that athletics can teach you to become a better human being,” Ingold to On Mission. “That’s what I think is a little lost right now in athletics. Everyone wants results. Everyone needs to win the next game. How do you learn to be a better human being through those wins, through those losses, the good times and the bad times? That’s what we’re getting out of (this partnership).”

Ingold’s book, “The 7 Crucibles, An Inspirational Game Plan for Overcoming Adversity in Your Life,” served as the foundation for the lessons shared with St. Norbert Athletics, he said. 

The book covers seven specific leadership principles for success on and off the field. He credits his mother, Chris Ingold, a teacher, for his motivation to educate through the book, which was released in February 2023.

Ingold said he found time to write while he was recovering from a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) suffered during the 2021 season while playing for the Las Vegas Raiders.

“I was staying busy with journaling and audio,” he said. “The book came to a yearlong worth of work. A lot of the work happened when I couldn’t run or jump because I was on the shelf.”  

Ingold described his in-person presentation as his “testimony.” 

He shared some difficult moments he had during his athletic and personal journey, including a rash decision to quit wrestling as a high school senior and walk away from his goal of winning a state championship. 

He was receiving football scholarship offers at the time, so he said to himself, “Why do I need to go through this hard stuff (in wrestling)?”

“I was broken mentally, emotionally, spiritually,” he said. “It hit me in the face. How did I respond as an 18-year-old kid? I packed up my stuff and went home.”

Turns out, even though he made that sudden decision to quit, he never missed a practice. Instead, he said he rededicated himself to “give more than I had ever given before.” 

Ingold points to the efforts of an assistant coach who worked extra time with him on the mat. He won the WIAA Division 1 220-pound state championship on Feb. 28, 2015, at the Kohl Center in Madison.

At his St. Norbert presentation, Ingold also discussed adversity during his junior year for the Badgers, explaining he wasn’t putting in the necessary work and, as a result, was benched.

“How do I respond? You can’t control what happens in your life, but you can control your response to it,” he said. “I decided to point fingers … I didn’t want to look in the mirror.”

Ingold said, at the time, he was also struggling with his identity of being adopted.

“There is a man out there somewhere that I’ve never met before,” he said. “He looks like me, talks like me, walks like me. He walked out on me and my birth mother because I was too big of a liability for his life, for what he had going on. I never had that visual representation of what I was supposed to be. … I felt that I wasn’t good enough.”

An unexpected mentor helped him overcome his struggles, he said.

“He told me, ‘I want to let you know that I love you.’ A guy I’ve met a handful of times that’s here spreading love, spreading joy, told me he loves me,” he said.

Following his final season with the Badgers, Ingold was rated the top fullback prospect for the 2019 NFL draft. He expected to be selected in the fifth or sixth rounds. Instead, he wasn’t drafted, but received an invitation to join the then Oakland Raiders.

“I was going to take reps for the starters, go out for two months, get cut. That was the reality, after going all in (to prepare),” he said. “My dad (Pat Ingold) sat me down before I left. He said, ‘Son, you have to go take a grown man’s job.’”

Ingold shared how he put in maximum effort both physically and mentally. He mentioned that one coach even asked him why he was trying so hard when he was going to get cut. 

In the end, Ingold won the starting fullback job.

“I’m still fighting every day,” he said. “Seek that discomfort to be the best version of yourself.”

Ingold said that he’s become more comfortable showing vulnerability as a speaker and opening up about his personal struggles.

“You feel the real impact from it, then the willingness to do it gets a little easier,” he said to On Mission. “It’s scary at first, but that’s the only way to be real about it.”

Ingold’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination was, in part, because of his nonprofit, the Ingold Family Foundation. The organization’s mission includes raising funds to help youth “become the best versions of themselves.”

“We’re just getting started. It’s cool to be able to create new environments, collaborate with other really good nonprofits that have been doing it 30, 40 years,” he said. “We’re able to use an NFL platform to expand their work. … I’m really excited for it long term (after his playing career). … Living here, staying here, growing old here, that’s going to be the lifelong job.”

For more information on the Ingold Family Foundation, visit Alec Ingold.

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