Grissetts prove dreams come true

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 19, 2002

"If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride - and never quit - you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards," legendary University of Alabama Head Football Coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant once said.

As a Crimson Tide fan, Mitch Grissett of Red Level took those words to heart and is now fulfilling a dream as a member of the football team he once dreamed about dressing out for as a child.

Grissett (5" 7 1/2", 210 pounds) is not the prototypical football player. He is too small and too slow. Grissett, however, has overcome his weaknesses by hitting the weight room.

He is the current weightlifting record-holder among special team players on the Tide. He earned that distinction with a 600-pound squat, 425-pound bench press, 350-pound hang clean and a 365-pound incline bench press.

"I'm really undersized," Grissett said. "I've always felt like my strength was a key aspect to make up for my lack of size and speed."

Grissett's strongest muscle, however, is his heart.

Once he was contacted by the former coaching staff at Alabama as a junior at Red Level and told he had the potential to dress out as a member of the Tide a seed was planted.

"I actually had letters I had received from the old coaching staff before my senior year," Grissett said. "Before that, I thought it was out of reach. Ronnie Cottrell told me I had a place there and that he thought I would do well.

"It had always been a life-long dream to play there," he added. "So, when I got the opportunity I jumped at it."

His opportunity and the seed of a dream planted in his mind by those letters paid dividends last season when Grissett dressed out twice for the Crimson Tide. He was on the sideline as a back-up deep-snapper for the game against Southern Mississippi and for the bowl game against Iowa State.

The 2002 season began with Grissett waiting to find out when he would get to dress again. He finally found out last week and dressed out for the game against North Texas last Saturday night. It was the first game he dressed out for at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Grissett said running through the tunnel and out onto the field is something that is impossible to describe.

"It was quite amazing," Grissett said. "It was everything I had dreamed of.

"You run out in front of 85,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs," he added. "It's hard to describe."

Grissett said he has made friends on the team and hangs out with his teammates. He said he has even been given a couple of nicknames.

He is known as "Pocket Hercules" and "Psycho" for his work in the weight room. He has also been called "Rudy" a couple of times.

Grissett said he doesn't mind the "Rudy" tag too much, even though it is a reference to a Notre Dame player.

He said Rudy's story and the movie based on his life is one of his favorites and even provides inspiration.

"In a way, it is somewhat of an inspiration when you look at his size and the things he overcame in his life," Grissett said. "I hope I am doing the same thing for the people of Covington County. It's not impossible to achieve your dreams.

"I want to thank everybody in Covington County for all of their great support and the support from my family," he added.

Grissett said everyone at Red Level School has been a tremendous help, including the teachers, coaches, fellow students and everybody in the community.

Grissett has worked hard to achieve his goal of dressing out for the Crimson Tide, but he knows it would not have been possible without some divine guidance.

"Everything I do is for the glory of God," Grissett said. "I've truly been blessed."

Mitch Grissett is not the only Grissett from Red Level to go to the Capstone and achieve a dream. His younger brother Daniel has also chased a dream and captured it by becoming a member of the Million Dollar Band.

Daniel Grissett is an alto saxophone player and performs with the band during pregame and halftime ceremonies.

He said he fell in love with the idea of playing in a big marching band the first time he saw and heard the Troy State band play.

He was a member of the Red Level Marching Band and after trying out for the Million Dollar Band was accepted.

He said all of the band performs at home games and the entire band will travel to Knoxville for the Tennessee game. The rest of the away games will only have a smaller portion of the band in attendance.

As for the Hawaii game at the end of the season, both Grissetts are still waiting to find out if they will get to travel to the Aloha State.