Keeping the dream alive

Story by Kyle Davis

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Some dreams just can’t be shaken. Even after collegiate careers end, an athlete’s dream of making it to the next level does not just stop after the graduation ceremony.

Frank Owens’ Baker University football career ended with the 2007 season, and Owens now is working to begin a new chapter in his football career.

Owens attended training camp with the Iowa Barnstormers, an Arena Football League 2 team, from March 10 to March 14, although training camp started March 7.

Owens got his first taste of focusing on football 24 hours a day. The players went through two-a-day practices as well as weightlifting sessions and classroom work.

“Pretty much you live, breathe and eat football,” Owens said.

On March 14, the decisions for which players would make the team were made, and Owens was listed as a reserve.

Basically, if a player gets injured, Owens gets the call to head to practice. Now he is just waiting for that call.

“Anytime you get Baker’s name out there, it’s going to help,” junior Mack Brown said. “Frank’s the perfect guy to get things started.”

OWENS' EARLY CAREER<br/>The relationship between Owens and football was not love at first sight.The relationship between Owens and football was not love at first sight.
The relationship between Owens and football was not love at first sight.

“It’s kind of funny, I actually hated football the first season I ever played,” Owens said. “It wasn’t until my second year I found my niche, and I loved it.”

Owens said he played because he was expected to, since his brother was a talented player, and there was pressure for him to play.

His first season of football came when he was in seventh grade, but during middle school and high school Owens did not limit himself to one sport, also playing basketball, baseball and track.

FROM COLLEGE TO THE PROS<br/>Owens was a running back at Baker, but the Barnstormers had him play at linebacker during camp.Owens was a running back at Baker, but the Barnstormers had him play at linebacker during camp.
Owens was a running back at Baker, but the Barnstormers had him play at linebacker during camp.

The team was also impressed with his special teams work.

“I didn’t start until really my senior year (at Baker), but never really gave up,” Owens said. “Just keep working hard at it and then one day, one day you’ll get there.”

In his final year at Baker, Owens and fellow running back Richie Bryant combined to form what head coach Mike Grossner called a “one-two punch.”

Owens was the big, powerful back while Bryant used his speed to get outside.

“That spring going into his senior year is when he finally blossomed into a big, powerful tailback,” Grossner said. “I think as a leader and as a team guy and a guy that guys wanted to be around, Frank was always that.”

In that final season, Owens was recognized for his hard work and was a Third Team All-Heart of America Athletic Conference Player.

“Frank’s the nicest guy you’ll meet,” Brown said. “His looks are very intimidating, but his personality’s great. He’s a lot of fun to be around.”

Owens said he was at the University of Kansas in the spring of 2008 when the idea was sparked to give football another shot.

He was playing a pickup game against former Division I players and played well.

“I was up against them and then, next thing I know, I was doing pretty good,” Owens said. “I was like ‘You know, maybe I should just give it another shot.'”

LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL<br/>Owens is now at Nike Elementary in Gardner working with children with autism.Owens is now at Nike Elementary in Gardner working with children with autism.
Owens is now at Nike Elementary in Gardner working with children with autism.

He will continue to work while waiting for his opportune phone call.

He is also preparing for a career away from the football field and toward the medical field.

Owens is looking to go back to school to become certified as a physicians’ assistant.

“Frank’s going to represent Baker well on and off the field,” Grossner said. “I also know if it doesn’t work out for Frank in Arena football, he’s got a lot to fall back on.”

After the success of Baker’s football team this season, other players from Baker may be looking to enter professional leagues, but Owens has the privilege of helping pave the way.

“One thing I always really wanted to do was to just kind of open up that doorway for other Baker players, even if I really don’t make it, at least that doorway is now open,” Owens said.