Owatonna senior Grant Achterkirch enjoys how sports keeps him busy. He looks forward to being a leader in developing a strong culture. And he gets to do all this close to home. Call it a hat trick for the Huskies football MVP who also plays hockey and baseball. Achterkirch signed his National Letter of Intent to play Division I college football at the University of St. Thomas on Thursday at a ceremony with his family at OHS. Classmates and teammates watched and cheered the occasion.

"It's really exciting. I'm really proud of where I've gotten to. Because it's been a lot of hard work. I feel like it's starting to pay off. And it's also a big relief to know that I've gotten to my goals and dreams." [Click on his name below to hear an interview.]

Grant Achterkirch, OHS Class of '22

The Tommies are just now making the transition to the Division I level of college sports. It's a chance Achterkirch relishes, "It's really exciting because I get to be a part of something that is building and I can start the foundation for a really good culture and process there."

He added, "They have a really strong family culture there. They're just one big family and they love to win. That's right up my alley."

football, athlete
Roy Koenig/TSM

OHS football coach Jeff Williams said, "One of the coolest things is that Grant is a three-sport captain, which shows the leadership that he has, the leadership skills he has, and the high regard his classmates have for him."

Williams added, "Grant had a phenomenal football career here, was all conference both years he was a starter on our defense, leading tackler the last two seasons, and Grant's also a superb student. [He] was academic all Big Nine...and last year was the Josten's Junior Athlete."

Grant had to make a big adjustment this season when a broken hand derailed his hopes of contending for the quarterback job. He ended up taking on the role of fullback as the undercard to his standout season as linebacker, all while having his hand in a cast (dubbed The Club), "Playing with one hand, there was challenges to it. After awhile it just felt like second nature. Being able to play two again. It's almost like a completely different game."

He enjoys being a three-sport athlete, "It all keeps me busy. It's all different groups of guys. I love hanging around with everybody...Being able to be competitive all year round."

After his signing ceremony, Achterkirch hopped on the hockey bus to Albert Lea. It was the second time football and hockey mixed together on the same day. Achterkirch played in the football showcase on December 4 at US Bank Stadium, hustled off to Farmington, and laced up the skates for that night's game.

Achterkirch really likes the St. Paul campus of St. Thomas, the football coaching staff, and the chance to get into his desired career field of criminal justice, "and the internship opportunities up there are really good."

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