The fire within
never thought his experience as a fullback for the Northern Arizona University
football team would prepare him for his job as a firefighter a year later. As a
fullback, recent alum Jake Hess was tasked with protecting the Northern Arizona
University football team’s running back as he drove in to score touchdowns. His
teammates relied on his dependability, as well as his ability to lead and
communicate, and this growth and experience prepared him for his current
job—working as a wildland firefighter with the Flagstaff Fire Department.
Arizona University 2013 Male Senior Scholar-Athlete of the
Year, who graduated
in May with a 3.55 GPA and a BS in Psychology, says the skills he developed
playing football at the university have translated well into his new line of work.
you’re playing football, you go into meetings and you learn ten new plays for
the day,” Hess says. “Then, you have to go out to practice and not mess them up,
when things are happening so fast and the information is so new. Fighting
wildfires on a team is somewhat like that.”
to eventually apply and be admitted to post-collegiate medical study. Despite
his success with athletics, he explains he focused on his academic career
because he knew that was where his future was.
I wasn't going to be a professional athlete, so I had to keep my grades up,”
never been above doing hard work, from his studies to hours of community
service. It is how he found himself on the Northern Arizona University football
team in the first place.
Earning his place
originally from Reno, Nevada, attended Boise State for three years before
transferring to Northern Arizona University. Nothing was handed to him – Hess
had to earn both a starting position on the football team and an athletic
full-ride athletic scholarship is probably one of the greatest things an
athlete can accomplish,” Hess says. “You put in a lot of hard work and
eventually the good things come around. I really appreciate all the people who
donate money to scholarships.”
In his role
as fullback, Hess was charged with protecting the running back as he drove the
ball down the field. It is a role that requires great communication and
chemistry between the two players. Hess and All-American running back Zach Bauman worked efficiently together for two seasons, and Bauman just broke the university's rushing yards record.
his role on the team, including bringing the energy and enthusiasm necessary to
get his teammates fired up.
“I'm a high
energy guy,” Hess explains. “If I get out there in a game and I see some guys
that have their head down, I'll try to motivate them. I let them look into my
eyes and see how much passion I'm playing with.”
being a student-athlete in Flagstaff was an experience unlike any other.
Arizona University is a great community that has a small town vibe,” Hess says.
“I had a lot of people come up to me and tell me what a great game I played.”
Protecting and serving
played football at the university, Hess was lauded for his work in the
community. On May 15th, he was named the National Football Foundation’s Athlete
of the Day in recognition of his charitable accomplishments.
activities, Hess was the student-athlete speaker at Red Ribbon Week, volunteered at a golf camp for
kids, and was an active participant in the Student-Athlete for a Day event, where local Flagstaff
elementary school students learn what being a university student is like from
Northern Arizona University athletes.
So far, Hess has been enjoying his post-graduate life and the job he loves, protecting the community from the dangers of wildfire. For Hess, it is an opportunity to both give
back and gain new experiences.
is something I love to do,” Hess says. “Every day, I've been learning a ton of
new things. I love to work hard, so it's the perfect career path for me.”