Clarissa Kraayenbrink- Staff Writer
Industry Standard: it’s the new motto that Head Coach Joel Penner and his staff have brought to the Defender football team this year. To be Industry Standard is to be the paragon in your arena of expertise; to learn from adversity and to choose commitment to a cause over and above personal comfort. It’s something that Coach Penner is not taking lightly. After being an assistant football coach for 15 years at the college level, Penner credits the experience of creating his own vision for this team as incredibly humbling.
“I just think Dordt football was the right place at the right time for this message,” Penner said. “That’s God’s work, that’s what He’s doing. I try to view it as I’m a part of what He intended for Dordt football this year. It’s nothing really in me; it’s me carrying the message he wanted me to deliver.”
Being a first-year coach, Penner has felt a close bond with his players. He gets to see them on the field, in the classroom and even in his home sharing a meal with his family. Penner says he’s all-in with this group of guys and calls them an “absolute joy” to get to coach every day.
Prior to the Hastings game on Oct. 22, the Hastings coach came up to Penner and told him that he had never seen a team fight as hard as this group has. After the Defenders’ narrow one-point victory, the coach came up to Penner once again and said, “I told you so.” The only thing Penner can say to describe that is Industry Standard.
“That’s exactly how I would define Industry Standard,” Penner told his team that day. “For an opponent to say ‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ to me, I can’t think of a better definition of Industry Standard.”
For senior wide receiver Jason Miller, he could feel that this season was going to be different before the first game was even played. Between the new coaching staff, the new offense and even the switching up of the mundane day-to-day rituals, this year’s team has broken many school records so far. They are number one in points and also number one in individual passer, individual rusher and individual receiver.
“I think what’s special about Dordt football is that even though we haven’t been successful in the past, we’ve never really given up,” Miller said.
Miller says that this newfound success wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the coaches and players that have come before this year’s team. This team is building off the foundations that have been set before this year to get them here.
After their 2-0 start, Penner gave his team the analogy of climbing a 14,000-foot peak in Colorado to portray the remainder of their season. Once you get to the top, the view is beautiful and you think you’ve conquered it all. But when you look to the north, there’s another 14,000-foot peak. And to the south? Yet another one. But, Penner says, if you are a true competitor, there’s always going to be another 14,000-foot peak to conquer.