Brainerd Warrior athletes have a tradition of excellence in multiple sports: Colby Ring (one of the greats to have worn football’s #40), a remarkable athlete who was both thunder and lightning in football, is part of that long Blue line.
Ask Colby today and he will tell you that some sports teach “great eye hand coordination and quickness,” others create “explosiveness and stamina” and yet others require “physical factors.” Each sport exposes athletes to different coaching styles, in effect teaching “adaptability” to life’s circumstances.
Built like a middle linebacker, but with the breakaway speed of a running back, Colby played both ways, blanketing the field from sideline to sideline on defense and setting the BHS record for tackles (thunder), then breaking tackles and outrunning DBs as part of the powerful Warrior running game (lightning). Although capable of a “pancake” tackle, Colby set his tackling records by getting to the ball, first, then sound technique.
Colby and the determined Warriors took on the heavily favored Wayzata Trojans in the quarterfinals of the 2007 state tournament, defeating the Trojans with a famous come from behind drive capped by the Nate Schaefbauer to Brandon Sheppard last minute “low and away” touchdown pass and catch at the goal line (now canonized as “The Catch”), propelling the Warriors on to the Dome.
Games like Brainerd vs Wayzata, and later, Brainerd vs Eden Prairie, literally require consistent team efforts, down to the last seconds. What is it that Colby Ring remembers most about his Warrior football life? In his words:
“It is easy to look around and see that you are not doing this yourself. There are teammates, coaches and community members there who are counting on you to step up and give everything you have.
“The biggest life lesson football taught me was a responsibility greater than myself, as a team.
“When you are throwing up during workouts and pushing yourself through extra reps in the weight room, you are not doing it for yourself. You are doing it for the other 10 on the field with you.”
For his stellar BHS career on the gridiron, Colby was MVP and All State.
Not surprisingly, Colby excelled on the ice, at defense, and literally contributed legs in the setting of BHS sprint records in the 4 x 100 and the 4 x 200, a true “three sport athlete.”
Demonstrating the value of athletic diversity by participation in multiple sports, Colby was recruited by the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD) and started at middle linebacker for three years, playing in the Bulldogs’ 2010 Division II national championship year. He was all conference in 2012 and 2013 and All American in 2013.
During his UMD career, Colby played in 52 games: The Bulldogs won 90% of those games and along the way Colby amassed 283 tackles, third most in UMD history. Organized football team workouts occasionally consisted of swimming, volleyball, dodge ball, basketball, tug of war and soccer.
Despite his Thunder and Lightning athletic prowess, it was only in 2015, when Colby’s parents read the current UMD program, that they learned that Colby was the team MVP in 2012. Despite all of the challenges and successes Colby was part of in his athletic history, his deeds always spoke loudest for him. Love of his brothers on the field is what mattered.
Off the field and while at UMD, Colby met Nadine Abu Azzam, another UMD national champion (dance). After Colby graduated from UMD in 2014, Nadine and Colby married and moved to Richmond, Virginia, where Colby is an inside salesman with Ryerson Steel, a 175 year old company serving the aerospace, defense, heavy equipment, oil and gas, shipbuilding and transportation industries by the processing and distribution of metals, with operations in the US, Mexico, Canada, China and Brazil.
Who would know Colby Ring better than the Dean of Minnesota football coaches, his varsity coach, Ron Stolski:
“From the moment Sophomore Colby stepped on the Varsity field to the time he stepped off as a Senior Captain and Mr. Football finalist, his demeanor and attitude remained remarkably the same: That of a humble, respected, quiet leader who lived and demonstrated all that any parent, teammate or coach would desire.
“Colby gave it his all. In every manner and form, Colby only knew one way. Smooth as yogurt, quick as the snap of a finger, his considerable physical skills remained overshadowed by the effortless way he employed them.
“A Warrior and a gentleman: What a marvelous combination!!”
Colby Ring: Thunder and lightning, a most honorable bearer of the grand tradition and calling of the Warrior Way.