November 22, 2016

Earning Their Way

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Nov. 22, 2016

Preview of the November 26th edition of the Ohio State Football Official Gameday Magazine. Gameday Magazines are available for purchase for $10 in and around Ohio Stadium.

Mary Zimmerman
Ohio State Athletics Communications

The sports world is full of people who simply wanted a chance, but became so much more all because of the journey. Senior linebackers Joe Burger and teammate Craig Fada’s personal odyssey will soon lead to a difficult yet significant achievement, earning a fourth letter in football after initially walking on to the team; something that isn’t easily researched but certainly hasn’t been done at Ohio State in football very often, if at all.

“There were a lot of people who thought that I couldn’t play at a level like Ohio State. In high school, they told me ‘just take a scholarship and play in the MAC (Mid-American Conference)’. But my dream was always to play in a Big Ten program,” Burger recalls as Fada nods in agreement. Fada adds, “It’s a huge honor, to be able to say I walked on at the greatest place to play football in America and earned a scholarship for it. I could have gone elsewhere with a scholarship. But why would I do that when I could come to The Ohio State University and play at the highest level possible?”

Probably the most interesting fact about the dynamic duo is that neither athlete was defined with the comparative nature of being a walk-in in a sea of scholarship earning competition.

Fada explains it best, saying, “You earn your way around here no matter who you are.” So their greatest challenge? Complacency.

Fada continues, “Even coming in as a young freshman as you never look at yourself as a walk-on, you look at yourself as another opportunity to help this team out. As long as you find your niche, and keep finding your niche when the need has been met, there is absolutely no reason why you couldn’t help this team win.”

Burger agrees. “The daily struggle of not being satisfied with where you are is the hardest part. Some people say, ‘oh you have a scholarship now’ and think my goal is met, which it is to a degree, but I think the biggest thing is just satisfaction day in and day out, the challenge of never being satisfied with where I’m at. I want to always keep reaching for that next level.”

Two truly incredible, hard-working men emerge near the end of their journey with not only heads held high but also high hopes towards their future endeavors. Burger is an engineering major while Fada is a biology major with plans to become an orthopedic surgeon.

“Having this opportunity here at Ohio State, there’s nothing that would stop me from achieving my dreams,” Burger explains. “Attending The Ohio State University is something I’m incredibly proud of. I’ve been privileged to meet so many great people, past and present, which have helped me out. They have helped me improve, grow and take pride in my personal ventures. I’ve been incredibly blessed with the people that have been in this football program, both players and personnel.”

Taking pride in what you do and who you are is the credo that is the foundation of everything Ohio State: academics, administration, alumni and athletics. The pride that Joe Burger and Craig Fada exude is unlike any other, and Buckeye fans should remember their amazing journey and dedication for years to come.