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By Alexandra Assimon
When you get knocked down, you get back up and try again. And that is exactly what Morgan Kinsinger, a football player at Grinnell College in Iowa, has had to do.
His senior season has been plagued with on-the-field injuries, but the illness he overcame earlier in college has taught him to appreciate his time as a collegiate football player.
Kinsinger was like any college kid: He felt young, invincible, care-free. But then, between his freshman and sophomore years, he heard the words: “You have cancer.”
“It was a totally surreal time in my life,” said Kinsinger, explaining that the diagnosis, made at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Tex., came after several different doctors were unable to diagnosis the issues he was having with his back. ”Before that nowhere could really tell me what was wrong.”
Instead of spending the summer enjoying time with friends and training for the upcoming season, Kinsinger had back surgery to remove the cancerous cells. After the initial procedure, he received more testing to determine if the melanoma had spread; it had not.
The economics major had to miss the entirety of his sophomore year’s preseason practice and conditioning. At the advent of his junior year, he was set to take over as the starting left tackle but was unsure whether he could still earn that spot.
“I have this philosophy that the only thing worse than practicing is not getting to practice, which is really evident to anyone who has to sit out,” said Kinsinger. “It is a complete drag just sitting there watching people work their hardest, and all you can do is sit around and watch.”
He was cleared to practice right before that season’s scrimmage and saw limited playing time in that scrimmage. After his performance in the exhibition, he was named the starting left tackle for the first game and has kept that position well into his senior year.
The cancer has not returned. But Kinsinger has had other issues to deal with: In a contest earlier this year, he left the game with an eye injury that required a trip to the emergency room. On the third play of another game, he broke his big toe. He finished that game on an ailing foot, but doctor’s orders kept him out of the next one.
With all of the injuries and illness, his experiencehas taught him that he can rise from the deepest of lows to find success.
“The support and lifelong friendships that I have made in my Division III career at Grinnell,” he said, “have been incredible.”