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Football, Faith, and Family

Though Luke Brandt ’24 committed to Bethel first, his brother, Dave ’22, beat him to Minnesota by transferring to Bethel for quite the unprecedented semester in spring 2020. Now, both brothers are eager to be on campus—together and in community—as they grow in their faith both on and off the football field.

By Katie Johnson ’19, content specialist

September 11, 2020 | 2:30 p.m.

Brandt brothers—Dave '22 and Luke '24—at their home in Colorado.

Brandt brothers—Dave '22 and Luke '24—at their home in Colorado.

When Dave Brandt ’22 graduated high school three years ago, he thought he had played on a football team with his brother, Luke ’24, for the last time. And though they traded Friday night lights for Saturday afternoon sunshine, Dave can’t wait to join Luke on the field when Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) sports continue—hopefully this spring.

Dave enjoys his role as big brother and has always felt comfortable forging a path for himself and Luke. He attended college states away from their home in Colorado, and while his dreams of working in federal law enforcement have inspired Luke to consider a similar career path, Luke was the brother always determined to go to Bethel.

In fact, he was so determined that he committed to Bethel during his admissions visit over Bethel’s 2019 Homecoming—fall of his senior year of high school. That weekend, Bethel beat Carleton College 42 to 13, and the atmosphere in the locker room, on the field, and even in the stands made an impression on Luke. He approached Head Football Coach Steve Johnson ’79 and committed to Bethel right there in the midst of the wild celebration on the field. “Bethel was the place for me from the start,” Luke said. “I was talking to some bigger schools, and they were good and all. But Bethel—you can’t beat that culture, and the people are super nice. The football’s great. And I love how it’s football mixed with a great community and a love for God.”

Along with his position as safety on defense, Luke '24 was a long snapper on his high school football team.

Along with his position as safety on defense, Luke '24 was a long snapper on his high school football team.

While happy he made a decision, Luke’s parents were concerned that he might’ve missed out on some valuable opportunities. His mother, Terri, remembers posing the question: “‘Let’s just say that a bigger school offered you a full-ride scholarship with all the spotlight and the glory and the money that the world can throw at you—’ and Luke said, ‘I don’t care. It’s not going to be better than Bethel.’ And I said, ‘You’re absolutely making the right choice.’ Football is not just a stadium or a locker room or a uniform or an image. Steve Johnson is an amazing guy, and the coaches and the entire staff at Bethel were so outstanding.”

And when Dave was looking to transfer from a school in Oklahoma halfway through his sophomore year, Luke encouraged him to look into Bethel. Dave visited in December, and as soon as he stepped onto Bethel’s snow-covered campus, Dave knew he belonged. He had heard so many great things from his family’s numerous visits, but when he experienced Bethel for himself, he could picture finding a home for himself there. “I could just feel that God was talking to me, saying, ‘Hey, this is where you’re supposed to be for your next couple years. This is where you’re supposed to take off, take that next step in life, and just get a chance to be a part of something special.’ Bethel is definitely that place for me,” Dave says.

Two months later, Dave settled into his own Bethel journey, excited to room with a fellow football player he met during his visit. Though he couldn’t have predicted what his first semester become in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, he loved his experience on campus, and the extended time in Colorado has made him all the more eager to deepen his relationships within the Bethel community and make the most of his time at Bethel this fall. And the most exciting part of Dave’s return is that he’s not doing it alone. “The whole aspect of getting to have my brother at Bethel is just huge,” Dave says. “There are not a lot of people that are blessed to play on the same team and be in the same locker room with their brother. He’ll be right across campus. We get to be together. I don’t know if we’re more excited or if our family is even more ecstatic since they get to see us both at once.”

Dave Brandt '22 played defense with Luke '24 in high school, and now he's excited for their camaraderie as teammates to continue as Bethel Royals.

Dave Brandt '22 played defense with Luke '24 in high school, and now he's excited for their camaraderie as teammates to continue as Bethel Royals.

As they adjust to life in the Bethel community, the Brandt brothers are thankful to have each other, and though they aren’t on the field yet, they still treasure their roles on the football team. They are showing up however they’re able to on campus and in the community, and though the experience is beyond what they could’ve ever anticipated, their positivity in the face of these global circumstances has shaped their approaches to the unusual semester.

“I’m really looking forward to that fresh start of meeting new people,” Luke says. “Honestly, it’s all so exciting. The football team, getting to know the guys, getting to know the students at Bethel and bonding with my professors and working hard in school. I’m so ready to take that next step into life and mature a little bit. I’m ready for that new experience. 

As Luke tries to take it all in and find his rhythm on campus, Dave is determined to slow down and manage the circumstances that are right before him. “Just take one day at a time,” Dave tells himself. “Make this day better than the last. Make it what you make it. This year, there has been a lot of stuff going on in the world. How can I make it better for myself and the people around me that I interact with every single day? How can I wake up and say, ‘Today’s going to be a better day than yesterday?’” 

And while neither of them has all the answers, they’re resolute to try their best and show up for their faith, their family, and their teammates—thrilled to support each other during such a time as this.

Transfer to Bethel

College is a transformative experience for students, and we want individuals to find their home as they learn, grow, and make their faith their own. If you’re considering transferring to Bethel, our transfer admissions counselor, Emma Creger, is ready to answer all your questions and help you through the process. “My job as a transfer admissions counselor is to be there to help you through the whole transition process," Creger says. "I’m happy to do so, no matter how many emails you send me. I want to make you feel as empowered as possible."

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