Isaiah Minnich of Rochester didn’t have the smoothest transition from high school to college.
A standout offensive lineman at John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minnich transferred from Concordia University in St. Paul after just one semester, and he recently underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Naturally, his mother worried.
But Cathy Nelson was quickly relieved as she watched her son handle each obstacle with grace – and faith.
“I’m really proud of him,” said Isaiah’s mother, Cathy Nelson. “I’m proud of the fact that he’s been able to dust off the dirt or whatever the adversity that’s been put in front of him.
“There’s been a little bit of a struggle, being away from home, and growing up a little bit, and experiencing those life lessons, and he turned to his faith,” she added. “It’s comforting to me as a mom.”
Isaiah credited FCA.
“It has brought me closer to God and stronger in my religion,” Isaiah said. “I thank the people who started the program and the people who are running it. I just love FCA.”
This summer, Isaiah shared his testimony as a huddle leader for a FCA youth sports camp in Rochester, and he’s leading college underclassmen in the area as well.
An offensive guard, Isaiah drew interest from schools such as Minnesota State, Mankato, Concordia and Upper Iowa University.
Due to transfer rules, Isaiah won’t be able to play football at his new school, Winona State University, which is partly why he elected to have the surgery. But Isaiah, who is 6 foot 3 and 285 pounds, will attend practices and team functions while he rehabs.
“I thought I could play through it,” said Isaiah, referring to an injury he believes he suffered throwing the shot put three years ago. “But I can be stubborn. With the surgery, I can still get four years of eligibility.
“It is what it is; I can’t change anything. It’s better to get myself healthy for my future. Football won’t be everything for the rest of my life. But I will have my shoulder for the rest of my life.”
Such positive messages are what he often shares with students. He wants to let them know that they can have God and sports.
“When you’re a kid, you’re like, ‘Let’s just go play.’ You don't think who this is for,” Isaiah said. “It’s something I didn’t realize until 10th grade. I tell (the younger students) I’m jealous of them. I want them to feel a greater reward as they grow up.”
Over the last few years, Isaiah said he’s particularly thankful for his relationship with James Bolin, Minnesota FCA’s Southeast Minnesota camps and campus ministry director.
“I know James is someone who will always be there for me,” Isaiah said. “It’s nice to have people you know who will support you.”
James said he appreciates that Isaiah is authentic and not “afraid to be himself.”
“Isaiah is a great young man,” James said. “He was always willing to ask questions and invite others to join the FCA huddle at John Marshall. He was a regular and a bit part of increasing the weekly attendance at the huddle there.
“I wish him all the best in the next stage of his journey at Winona State.”
Though he won’t be playing football, Isaiah is very excited about something else he confirmed this summer: He wants to teach elementary school.
“I love kids,” Isaiah said. “It was cool to hang out with kids who are younger and talk to them and humble them.”
Isaiah fondly recalls his first male teacher. Isaiah was in fourth grade, and the teacher made every activity fun and often utilized sports into his curriculum.
“I just really looked up to him,” Isaiah said. “He pushed us in the classroom but also in sports. It drove me to work harder, and it influenced me at such a young age. I hope I can do that for someone and influence kids.”