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Talent is the floor, but your character is the ceiling’

Miami Dolphins fullback Alec Ingold, a former Bay Port star, teams up with Bellin Health and local school districts on overcoming adversity

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May 14, 2024

GREEN BAY – Alec Ingold, a former Bay Port High School football star and current Miami Dolphins fullback, said he’s faced his share of adversity in his life.

Earlier this month, Ingold – who got his start in the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2019 with the Oakland Raiders, now known as the Las Vegas Raiders – spoke to area high school athletic directors, coaches, principals and Bellin Health employees about coping with adversity.

The four-year pro shared insights from his book: “The 7 Crucibles – Intentional Mindset in Athletics,” which details his own battles with adversity along his journey.

Ingold used the event to also announce a partnership with Bellin that will have him working with 33 local school districts to help area youth and adults facing unexpected challenges.

“We are educating and empowering varsity athletes – starting with six local school districts – to learn the lessons athletics teaches us and apply it to life‚ ,” Ingold said. “We’re using online modules, video slides, workbooks, quizzes and discussion boards – there are a lot of different ways to reach these kids. Some kids are more visual learners, while others are more into private learning.”

Ingold said this summer’s pilot program will eventually grow into all 33 local school districts.

“The program is starting now,” he said. “Some schools have already had their first session, and we’ll do a small ‘graduation’ June 28. That’s the concept and road map we have filled out. It’s going to be cool to see the feedback we receive. It doesn’t matter what I or anyone else knows – it’s about what the kids comprehend and understand and what they can use to be better versions of themselves.”

Alec Ingold recently released his book, “The 7 Crucibles – An Inspirational Game Plan for Overcoming Adversity in Your Life.” Rich Palzewic Photo

Ingold said he’s thrilled to be able to give back to the community that gave him so much.

“This is a community I’ve grown up in – I feel blessed to have grown up here,” he said.

A win-win for Bellin
Mark Husen, Bellin Health team facilitator for athletic training, said it was Ingold that suggested the partnership.

“Alec has initiatives based around lots of things, including being adopted (which Ingold was) and knowing kids have anxiety and bouncing back from injury,” he said. “He came to us and said, ‘I’d love to partner with Bellin and do something to help give back.’ It was an open discussion, about an hour and a half – I had already read his book once, so that guided me.”

Husen said Ingold got everyone at Bellin “pumped up about the possible partnership.”

“For us, it was a matter of how we engage with our local kids – it’s 33 school districts, and that’s a lot of kids in athletics‚ ,” he said. “We wanted to make sure (the partnership) was successful – we didn’t want to start too big and fast and go, ‘oh boy.'”

Husen said when deciding on the six school districts, “we picked out some bigger schools and some smaller ones.”

“We have Bay Port football, Crivitz baseball, Luxemburg-Casco volleyball, etc.,” he said. “It’s an assortment.”

The discussions brought up by Ingold, Husen said, are life-long lessons.

“High school kids can do this,” he said. “My son is nine, and I’m reading (Alec’s) book to him. You can read his book in one night if you want to.”

Husen said his son was adopted like Ingold, “so there is a connection there.”

“It’s not just about adoption,” he said. “You can be the biggest star athlete in high school, but what other challenges are there? Everyone has that adversity. We hope to expand this program beyond, grow and do different things – we’re just scratching the surface.”

Challenges of his own
Ingold said though he has faced several challenges over the years – he has been able to use them to better himself – not only on the football field but in everyday life.

From a last-ditch acceptance to play at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to being asked to change positions (linebacker to running back to full back) to being benched his junior year – Ingold said college came with many hurdles.

“But then, all my hard work paid off,” he said.

Ingold said he was the No. 1 fullback coming out of college – a projected fifth-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

“I know the 2025 NFL Draft is coming here, and it will be amazing, but the (2019 NFL Draft) was not too amazing for me,” he said. “I probably had half theTown of Suamico in my parents’ house. It was like 800 degrees in there, for four hours.”

Unfortunately, Ingold said he didn’t get drafted that night.

“The biggest fear of my life was not being good enough, but that motivated me for the longest time,” he said. “I was afraid of someone saying, ‘you tried your best, but you’re still not good enough.'”

Those thoughts, Ingold said, brought up other insecurities he’d often dealt with in regards to being adopted.

“There’s a guy out there who looks like me I’ve never met before,” he said. “He probably talks and walks like me, but when I was born, he might have said, ‘you’re a liability for me – you’re not good enough for me.’ That’s how I felt my whole life. Now I’m as close to my adopted parents as I can be. That’s another thing that pushed me all these years.”

After going undrafted, Ingold said he was left with “an intentional choice on how I responded to the external circumstances.”

“How do I respond to 32 NFL head coaches and general managers who said your life’s work wasn’t good enough to draft you?” he said. “I mulled it over as a 22-year-old kid in Suamico. I said to myself, ‘I’m going all in – I’m going to be better and the best version of myself.'”

Soon after, Ingold was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Raiders.

“It all happened,” he said. “It was an amazing experience being picked up by the Raiders, going to training camp and making the team. At the end of my first season, I was a Pro Bowl alternate. I sat down with our running backs coach (Kirby Wilson), and he said, ‘I don’t know if anyone has told you this before, but Alec, you have the chance to be the best in the world at playing fullback.’ It was another one of those moments where time stood still – I now believed it.”

The 2020 season was one for ages for the young kid from Northeast Wisconsin.

He scored the Raiders’ first touchdown in Allegiant Stadium history Sept. 20 and was named the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee at the end of season.

Riding high entering the 2021 season, Ingold said things came to a screeching halt in Week when he tore his ACL.

Alec Ingold, right, spoke with area high school athletic directors, coaches, principals and Bellin Health employees about coping with adversity at an event earlier this month. Rich Palzewic Photo

“Nine months on the shelf,” he said. “I was devastated.”

Sitting on the rehab table later that night, Ingold said former Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr – now with the New Orleans Saints – had some choice words for him.

“Derek said, ‘we love you buddy – you’re going to need to take tonight and decide how you’re going to deal with this ‚ you have to make an intentional decision to how you’re going to respond to this adversity.'”

Ingold said he took those words to heart as he again faced uncertainty.

“I dove into it full-force – the lightbulb went off,” he said. “It took a crucible, nine months of my life, not being able to do what I love to do, to understand all of those coaching points I was blessed with that went over my head or in one ear and out the other – it all added up at that moment.”

Another setback
Ingold said talent alone won’t make an NFL career possible.

“The talent is the floor, but your character is the ceiling,” he said. “I started researching and remembering moments at Bay Port on the football field and wrestling floor – the way you approach things is what it’s all about.”

After working on his book for three months, Ingold said he was brought in by Raiders’ management – “a new head coach, a new GM – I don’t have a contract anymore.”

“I was doing everything I needed to do,” he said. “The new GM shook my hand and said, ‘Alec, we appreciate the service for the last three years, but we don’t need you anymore.’ It was another intentional decision – how would I respond?”

Thankfully, Ingold said, (Miami head coach) Mike McDaniels gave him that opportunity.

“There’s this uncertainty of change that happens in our lives,” he said. “I went through all the change I had gone through in my life – the opportunity of a lifetime is only there for the lifetime of the opportunity.”

Ingold signed a two-year, $6.5 million contract with the Dolphins in 2022 and then signed a three-year extension through the 2026 season for $17.2 million.

“This last year, your guy (Ingold) did it,” he said. “Pro Bowl nod, first time, Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, second time. All of this external validation I’ve been chasing my whole life motivated me, but that’s not what got me here – it was the lessons in living with purpose from the inside out.”

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