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Clintonville athletes sign to play college football

Wood, Finger to play at St. Olaf

By Erik Buchinger

Clintonville football players Sean Finger and Gerald Wood signed to play for St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota on Monday, Feb. 18.

The signing was held in the Clintonville High School library with administrators, teachers, classmates and family in attendance, among others.

Wood, who will play wide receiver for St. Olaf, said he was happy to see the amount of support he and Finger received.

“It was really awesome, and everyone was very supportive,” Wood said.

“They emailed all the staff to spread the news, and so many teachers went out of their way to say congratulations and all seemed very interested. My friends being there was fun, and it’s cool to share this moment with them.”

Finger will play quarterback for St. Olaf. He said he was surprised by the number of people who showed up.

“It was pretty neat just to see how many people came by to see,” Finger said. “I didn’t think it was going to be so big. It was nice to see that many people there that cared.”

Wood first thought about playing college football during the spring of his junior year in high school when he started receiving letters from different schools.

At first, he was unsure he would be good enough to play at the next level.

“I didn’t know if I could physically do it,” Wood said. “I signed up for a football camp at Augustana and competed in different drills when I realized I could hold my own.”

Wood said he considered a few other schools, including Concordia College, Augustana College, Kenyon College and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

After visiting campus a few times, Wood made his decision in mid-January. “For me, it was really about finding that academic and athletics fit,” Wood said. “I wanted to go to a high-profile, really good school, and St. Olaf is the perfect fit as a top liberal arts school.”

Wood introduced the idea of playing football at St. Olaf with Finger.

“I knew he had been looking at St. Olaf and introduced me,” Finger said. “He had me come with him to visit the college, and I ended up liking it. He had a few other colleges he either liked academically or for football, but he ended up choosing St. Olaf with me.”

Finger visited the campus in October and again in January. He committed to St. Olaf around New Year’s. “I chose it a lot based on the academics side of it,” Finger said. “I’m having trouble figuring out what I want to do, and they have a good program that helps out a lot with that. Their academics are really good there, so that was the main reason.”

Finger said he is excited to continue playing football alongside Wood in college.

“I’ve been playing with him for several years,” Finger said. “I think this was our sixth year, and it’s nice to keep playing with him through college. He will be a great friend to have in college too with schoolwork and things like that.”

Wood said he looks forward to continuing to play with Finger.

“I’m super excited because Sean and I have playing football together since we were at St. Rose,” Wood said. “He was always quarterback, and I was the receiver. Growing up with him as best fiends, we get to continue our athletic careers together and continue to grow our friendship.”

Both players said they were helped in their development by the Clintonville football program.

“I’ll probably remember the great teammates I had and coaches,” Finger said. “Just all the memories like that, not necessarily all on the field, but off the field. Also, playing under the lights is really cool, and that will be a great memory.”

Wood said he will remember Clintonville football for coaches Tom Burkhalter and Jim Ash, whom helped him reach his goals.

“When I look back, I am really going to look remember the coaches the most,” Wood said. “With Coach Burkhalter and Coach Ash, those guys care so much about the program. Despite the wins and losses looking kind of grim, they’re building something I believe in, and the future is going to be great. I can’t wait to come back in a couple years and see all the hard work pay off.”

Finger said those coaches helped him succeed as well.

“Coach Burkhalter and Coach Ash really helped me take that next step to getting better,” Finger said. “It was a good coaching staff and great teammates to help push myself into that next level.”

Wood said the coaches helped out significantly when he or Finger had questions.

“Sean and I would ask a lot of questions about the playbook in practice,” Wood said. “They explained it to us and taught us how the game works, and I think that helped me out a lot.”

Both players thanked their parents for the sacrifices they made taking them to practices and games ever since they started playing.

Wood said his goal in college is to get into law school to become a lawyer, while Finger is undecided on his career plan.

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