Alex Cappa at the Line of Scrimmage with the Humboldt State University Jacks
Our latest entry in the popular Life in College Series profiles Dublin High School Class of 2013 graduate Alex Cappa, now attending Humboldt State University on a football scholarship. While at Dublin High School, Alex played varsity baseball and football, and performed in multiple Drama Club productions, including taking 3rd place at the 2013 Ohlone College High School Theatre Festival. In 2014, Alex was a unanimous First Team All-GNAC selection and was named the GNAC Offensive Lineman of the Year.
OneDublin.org: You were successful in high school both in baseball and football, what led you to pursue football for college?
Alex Cappa: “Baseball was the first sport I ever played and it was the thing I loved to do more than anything since I was five years old. Sports has always been a way for me to identify myself and I always thought I was a ‘baseball player’. When I was going into high school my dad really encouraged me to play football. As a freshman our team was extremely successful and didn’t lose a game. It was one of the most fun years of my life and I was immediately hooked on football.
During my sophomore year, around the third week of football season, I was called up to varsity which was an eye-opening experience for me and an experience that boosted my confidence in myself as a ‘football player’. That year my coach told me if I worked hard and did well in school I could play college football; this was the first time I can remember someone telling me this. The next couple years it became clear to me that I was better at football than baseball. I started to identify myself more as a ‘football player’ who also played baseball. I never remember making a choice that I would play football instead of baseball in college, that was just the way everyone talked to me and I was naturally guided down the path to becoming a college football player.”
OneDublin.org: That path to college for athletes is different in many ways; what was your path to signing with Humboldt College and Jacks football?
Cappa: “I talked to Coach Tripp, the Humboldt Coach recruiting in my area, a couple times and he seemed interested. He invited me to have an official visit to Humboldt State and I enjoyed my visit there. Humboldt State was the only offer I had to play college football and it seemed like a good fit. For a short time I considered going to a junior college and playing there but I knew a 4 year school would be a better fit for me. The night before signing day I made my decision and I could not be more glad I did. Most high school athletes don’t get the chance to continue playing into college.”
OneDublin.org: What was it like stepping on to the field for your first Jacks game?
Cappa: “My first season I redshirted which means you do everything with the team except play in the games but the good thing is that gives you an extra year of eligibility. My second season I was actually able to play and I had the opportunity to start. Our first game was in Texas which was a bit intimidating. As we drove up to the stadium there was a huge, Texas-style tailgate with a ton of people. During warm ups I was a bit nervous but the nerves did not last. After I played my first snap all my nerves went away and I was just playing football again. We won that game which was a big confidence boost for my freshman season and that trip to Texas was probably the best football experience I have ever had. Following the game was a trip to The Alamo and almost no sleep was we flew and took the bus back to Humboldt.”
OneDublin.org: How does college football differ from high school football?
Cappa: “The biggest difference is the level of dedication it requires. Although it is still a game, it is as serious as it can get. In high school your coaches have other jobs, often they are teachers, but in college coaching football is all they do. The way they feed their families and pay the bills is by coaching football and if they are unsuccessful their job is on the line. For everyone involved football is a lifestyle and if you want to be successful it has to also be an obsession. In college you put so much into each game that when you play there is so much on the line. Everything you do for the entire offseason is in preparation for the season so you are as emotionally invested in each game as you can possibly be.”
OneDublin.org: We recently interviewed Dublin High School Class of ’11 grad Joe Mello about all the work behind the scenes for a professional baseball player. Describe a typical week leading up to a football game.
Cappa: “We play on Saturdays so on Sundays we meet up as a team to evaluate the game film from the night before. Sundays are also used as a recovery day. Recovering is a combination of a light workout and stretch, time in the training for ice or whatever you body needs, and of course, rest. During the season the weekdays are long. Each day consists of class, lifting, meetings, practice, homework and film in varying orders for different student athletes. You obviously have to fulfill all your duties as a student but a lot goes into preparing for a game. Every day we have meetings for about an hour and practice for around 2 hours. We are also required to lift weights at least twice a week to maintain our strength. When you have free time you watch film and study your opponent. Our coach gives us a study sheet at the beginning of the week and a test at the end to make sure we are prepared. The tough part is when we have to travel. This week for instance we leave on a Thursday morning to go to South Dakota and will not return until Sunday night.”
OneDublin.org: Football has been in the spotlight in recent years due to the danger of multiple concussions. How is the game changing to make it safer for players?
Cappa: “The biggest change in my opinion is how we treat players who have sustained a concussion. At Humboldt before the season you take balance, hand eye coordination, and response time tests that are used as a baseline. When you suffer a concussion you have to retake this tests and score as well as you did when you were healthy to return. And even once you pass the tests and are symptom free you still have to wait five more days before returning.”
OneDublin.org: Setting aside more serious injuries, football is a physical sport that inherently involves pain. It’s been said that athletes have a “different relationship with pain”; what have you learned about yourself and what humans are capable of through pursuing football?
Cappa: “Everyone hurts almost everyday in football and that is just part of the game. Sore knees and jammed fingers are normal. Luckily I have been able to avoid major injuries so I have been able to stay on the field. It is crazy when you see guys go down, you really feel for them. Even crazier is some of the pain guys play through. A combination of wanting to win and not wanting to let your teammates down will make guys play through literally anything they can.”
OneDublin.org: What are you currently studying and do you have an idea of what you plan to pursue after completing your undergraduate degree?
Cappa: “I am studying Kinesiology with a focus on Exercise Science. Right now I think I want to coach after I am done playing football. That may change but I just love being around football.”
OneDublin.org: At Dublin High School you combined football, baseball and drama during the off season – what advice do you have for freshman to get the most out of their high school experience?
Cappa: “Do as much stuff as you can. High school is fun; there would be days where I would do a football workout in the morning, play a baseball game in the evening, and be performing skits at night. High school is really the only time in your life you are able to combine so many activities so take advantage of it. School is a very important tool to open doors in life, but enjoy the other things too.”