-- By Natalia Chino '23 --
Growing up in Westport, Connecticut, football has always been a major part of cornerback Ben Thaw's life. His dad played at Columbia University, so it is no surprise that he and his brother got involved in the game at a young age. Thaw began playing when he was five years old, joining a flag football team at his school, and from that point forward his life revolved around the sport.
In high school, Thaw found a very healthy balance between sports and academics. Due to his intense football schedule, that often times required him to be at school no later than 6 a.m., Thaw had to perfect his time management skills. To ensure he could excel both on and off the field, he took advantage of free periods during the day to complete his homework before practice. Thaw describes the lessons football taught him at a young age as helping to shape him into the young adult he is today. He learned to always be on time and that you're held accountable for your actions.
Thaw took all the skills he learned in high school and came to Wesleyan to enhance them. Even before arriving in Middletown, he knew this institution was the right fit for him. He loved the layout and architecture of the campus, and an impactful meeting with Head Coach Dan DiCenzo about how he could benefit from the football program really solidified his decision. Coach DiCenzo sold him on the idea of attending a prestigious institution with high academics while having the opportunity to continue excelling on the field. In addition to this, Thaw was keen on the idea of being exposed to a diverse student population at Wesleyan. He explained that, "interacting with others who have differing perspectives, morals, and culture, leads to well-roundedness and open-mindedness."
Thaw describes his experience on the football team in one word; vital. Without the team, he does not know how he would have acclimated and transitioned to college life. He had 75 friends as soon as he stepped foot on campus, all of whom were eager to offer advice and support on how to adjust to a new environment away from home.
As soon as the season started, Thaw started to build on the lessons he learned in high school, both on and off the field. Playing for the Wesleyan football team taught him about life, leadership, and camaraderie. Time management continued to be a crucial part of his focus as he began dedicating even more time to the sport. Furthermore, being named a captain this year forced him to demand the best out of everyone around him. He explained that if one person does not do what they are supposed to be doing, then nothing gets done. Adding that respectfully encouraging others to work hard and strive towards a common goal is not just a football quality, but that trying to help others and hold them accountable is important in all aspects of life.
Thaw also gains motivation from his close-knit family. Whether it is at home or away, his parents, grandparents, and siblings can be seen at every game rooting for him in the bleachers decked head-to-toe in Wesleyan gear. The encouragement from both his family and teammates to build confidence on and off the field is what reassures him that he can achieve at a high level.
Outside of playing football at Wesleyan, Thaw is pursuing a major in Government. He enjoys being able to take impactful real-world issues and study where they happen, why they happen, and how they happen. Thaw takes pleasure in exploring how the United States was established and seeing foundational theories and principles be applied in everyday life. He believes this is a clear extension of the way people behave and why they act the way they do. Although he has also succeeded on the academic side, it did not come without its own set of unique challenges. Thaw recalled taking a pass/fail class during his freshman year and almost failing. The only reason he did not end up failing was because football taught him to persevere and never give up, even when situations were incredibly tough. His coaches motivated him to go to office hours, get a tutor, and attend writing workshops because there is always a solution to difficult problems.
When asked about how it feels to be a senior, Thaw immediately responded, "It's crazy!" He can remember being a freshman like it was yesterday, and can't believe how quickly time has flown by. Thaw also recalled his favorite game to date, a 35-0 victory over Williams on Homecoming Weekend during his sophomore year. The Ephs had several impressive victories leading up to that game, and Thaw felt the team was counted out all week until the Cardinals proved everyone wrong.
Thaw also discussed the added responsibility that comes with being a senior and how he is happy to embrace the role of leading by example for the underclassmen. He contemplates how much he appreciated the seniors who took him under their wing when he was a freshman, and how he does his best to pay it forward. Thaw also reflected on his time at Wesleyan over the past few years, and although football has played the biggest role in his college experience, it isn't everything. He has also enjoyed being in the DKE fraternity, volunteering at MacDonough School, and participating in other community service events in the Middletown area with his teammates.