November 11, 2013

A Man Among Boys

More news about: Simpson

Just before kickoff on Saturday afternoon at Buxton Stadium, Simpson College junior football player Clay Finley takes a knee in the South end zone.

With his helmet off and his head down, he takes a moment to reflect.

He thinks about where he came from. He thinks about what he's been through. And he thinks about those who joined him along the way.

Finley isn't your typical college junior. At 24 years old, he had a lifetime's worth of experiences under his belt before ever stepping foot on campus.

Finley is a veteran of the United States Army.

. . . . .

Following a semester at Kirkwood Community College in the fall of 2007, Finley enlisted in the Army. As a Specialist for the 82nd Airborne Division, he spent 358 days in Afghanistan. He held a number of responsibilities overseas, including personal security detail, tower guard and serving as the lead gunman on convoys.

On more than one occasion, he found himself under heavy fire.

"There was one point where I was out of ammo, I was behind a building and there were bullets hitting the dirt right beside me," Finley said. "I had to [leave cover to] go and get more ammo. I looked up and said, 'Well God, if I die, I'll see you soon.'"

It's experiences like that – and another instance when he found himself within feet of a live mortar round – that help the 6-2, 205-pound defensive end stay cool under pressure.

"When things get really intense, I've been trained to keep calm," he said.

Opposing quarterbacks have been anything but calm when they see Finley coming. Through nine games, the Muscatine, Iowa native leads Simpson with 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. He has helped the Storm to a 6-3 record and a second-place spot in the Iowa Conference.

Not bad for a guy who never thought about playing college football until his brother gave him the idea.

"I was talking to my brother [after I got out] and he asked if I had ever thought about playing football," Finley recalled. "I said I hadn't, but he said I should think about it."

With that, Finley decided to extend his career. He knew Division III was his best route, so he narrowed his options to Central, Coe and Simpson. In the end, location, a respected exercise science program and the coaching staff led him to Indianola.

"I really liked the coaches here, they had the academic program I was interested in and it was close to Des Moines," he said. "It was really the best fit for me."

As a veteran, Finley faced some challenges in transitioning from life as a soldier to life as a student. To ease the shift, he took advantage of the Hawley Academic Resource & Advising Center and made sure to surround himself with the right type of people.

Now, the physical education and exercise science major is a Capital One Academic All-District First Team honoree.

"If you need help, Simpson will help you succeed," Finley said.

Of all the support he received from faculty and staff, it was football that provided the best avenue for Finley make the switch from soldier to civilian.

"Football helped me the most in transitioning from the military back to school," he said. "I needed that to help me transition."

Looking back on his experiences in the Army, Finley applies the lessons he learned during his deployment to football and life in general.

"I learned a lot about teamwork and friendship," he said. "You can be in the worst place imaginable, but if you have really good people around you, it's not so bad. If you surround yourself with good people, you'll be that much more successful and life will be that much more enjoyable."

. . . . .

As pregame winds to a close and kickoff nears, Clay Finley – a veritable man among boys – makes his way to the end zone.

With his right knee on the turf, his weight supported by a red helmet bearing a gold "SC", and his chin tucked to his chest, Finley gives thanks.

"Some of my buddies are gone, so I thank God that I am where I am, and I thank God for the people around me. I think, hopefully I can play like God and my family would want me to."

After revering the stars and stripes he fought for, Finley buckles his chinstrap.

He is ready for battle.

Sep. 30: All times Eastern
Final
Randolph-Macon 24, at Shenandoah 19
Box Score Photos
Final
at Washington and Lee 49, Emory and Henry 23
Box Score
Oct. 1: All times Eastern
Final
Massachusetts Maritime 30, at Fitchburg State 0
Box Score
Final
Becker 42, at Gallaudet 18
Box Score
Final
at Hobart 38, Merchant Marine 35
Box Score
Final
RPI 51, at Rochester 13
Box Score Recap
Final
Endicott 21, at MIT 9
Box Score
Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Juniata 17
Box Score
Final
at William Paterson 18, Montclair State 13
Final
at Wesleyan 34, Hamilton 6
Box Score
Final
at Tufts 12, Bates 7
Box Score
Final
Wabash 45, at Hiram 21
Box Score
Final
Middlebury 35, at Colby 14
Box Score
Final
Amherst 31, at Bowdoin 10
Box Score
Final
Frostburg State 25, at Kean 18
Box Score
Final
at DePauw 48, Kenyon 35
Box Score
Final
Ferrum 30, at Greensboro 0
Box Score
1:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Methodist
Video Live Stats
Final
FDU-Florham 32, at Wilkes 28
Final
at Castleton 23, Anna Maria 13
Box Score
Final
Moravian 33, at Ursinus 32
Box Score
Final
Stevenson 48, at Misericordia 0
Final
at St. Lawrence 42, Springfield 14
Box Score
Final
Thomas More 45, at Westminster (Pa.) 35
Box Score
Final
Alma 56, at Kalamazoo 26
Box Score Recap
Final
Franklin and Marshall 20, at Dickinson 10
Box Score
Final
Wesley 63, at Southern Virginia 9
Box Score
Final
Adrian 28, at Albion 21
Box Score
Final
Husson 33, at SUNY-Maritime 12
Box Score
Final
Apprentice 24, at Alfred State 8
Box Score Photos
Final
at Salisbury 41, TCNJ 6
Box Score
Final
at St. John Fisher 28, Buffalo State 24
Recap
Final
Salve Regina 47, at Curry 14
Box Score
Final
at Gettysburg 38, McDaniel 23
Box Score
Final
Delaware Valley 48, at Lebanon Valley 0
Final
at Denison 21, Ohio Wesleyan 14
Box Score
Final
at Ithaca 23, Utica 14
Box Score Recap
Final
Alfred 49, at Morrisville State 24
Box Score
Final
Western New England 56, at Nichols 27
Box Score
Final
at Albright 27, King's 7
Box Score
Final
at Guilford 59, Catholic 0
Box Score
Final
Muhlenberg 33, at Susquehanna 30
Box Score
Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 41, Huntingdon 31
Box Score
Final
at MacMurray 31, Minnesota-Morris 10
Box Score
Final
at Chicago 38, Birmingham-Southern 34
Box Score
Final
Westminster (Mo.) 35, at Crown 7
Final
at Allegheny 26, Oberlin 21
Box Score
Final
Mount Ida 15, at Norwich 14
Box Score
Final
Trinity (Conn.) 38, at Williams 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at Marietta 62, Baldwin Wallace 56
Final
at Heidelberg 27, Muskingum 24
Box Score
Final
at WPI 21, Union 14
Box Score
Final
at Coast Guard 36, Maine Maritime 30
Box Score
Final
John Carroll 67, at Wilmington 7
Box Score
Final
Mount Union 38, at Ohio Northern 21
Box Score
Final
Franklin 41, at Manchester 27
Box Score
1:30 PM
Mount St. Joseph at Hanover
Video Live Stats
End OT3
21 Widener
21 Lycoming
Video Live Stats Audio
Final
Defiance 59, at Earlham 28
Box Score
3rd - 02:58
19 Concordia-Chicago
41 Trine
Video Live Stats Audio
3rd (14:00)
20 Capital
21 Otterbein
Video Live Stats Audio
10:00 4th Qtr.
7 Plymouth State
7 Westfield State
Video Live Stats
Final
Wittenberg 41, at Wooster 13
Box Score
4th - 05:17
10 Anderson
44 Rose-Hulman
Video Video Preview Preview Live Stats
4th - 03:15
28 Hampden-Sydney
45 Bridgewater
Video Live Stats Audio
Final
Waynesburg 14, at Grove City 10
2:00 PM
Cortland at Hartwick
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Centre at Hendrix
Video Preview Live Stats
Final
Eureka 27, at Greenville 13
Box Score
Halftime
7 Northwestern (Minn.)
5 Iowa Wesleyan
Video Live Stats
Final
at Lakeland 16, Concordia (Wis.) 7
4th - 05:26
15 Rockford
65 Benedictine
Video Live Stats
4th - 04:51
48 Aurora
13 Wisconsin Lutheran
Video Preview Live Stats
HALF
17 Nebraska Wesleyan
17 Luther
Video Live Stats
4th - 02:06
36 Rhodes
20 Sewanee
Video Preview Live Stats
09:43 - 4th
14 Lake Forest
35 St. Norbert
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Gustavus Adolphus
Video Preview Live Stats Audio
4th - 02:33
31 Hamline
31 Carleton
Video Live Stats Audio
3:02 - 4th Qtr.
42 St. John's
27 Bethel
Video Live Stats Audio
4th - 10:31
20 UW-Whitewater
24 UW-Platteville
Video Live Stats Audio Audio
Final
Buena Vista 34, at Loras 24
Box Score
Start of 4th
29 Sul Ross State
39 Hardin-Simmons
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at UW-Eau Claire
Video Preview Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lawrence
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Cornell at Monmouth
Video Live Stats Audio
HALF
10 Wartburg
17 Coe
Video Live Stats
13:40 4th Q
35 Dubuque
17 Central
Video Live Stats Audio
HALF
17 Wheaton (Ill.)
24 Illinois Wesleyan
Video Live Stats
HALF
3 McMurry
24 Mary Hardin-Baylor
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Augustana
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Macalester at Ripon
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Grinnell at Illinois College
Video Live Stats
HALF
7 Howard Payne
14 Louisiana College
Audio
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at UW-La Crosse
Video Live Stats Audio
HALF
32 East Texas Baptist
17 Belhaven
Video Live Stats
4th - 06:42
7 Augsburg
55 St. Thomas
Video Live Stats
3:00 PM
Washington and Jefferson at Thiel
Video Live Stats
3:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Morthland
Video
3:00 PM
St. Scholastica at Martin Luther
Video Live Stats
3:00 PM
Carthage at Carroll
Video Live Stats
Halftime
3 UW-Stout
45 UW-Oshkosh
Video Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
2nd - 14:45
12 Willamette
6 Puget Sound
Video Video Preview Live Stats Audio
4:00 PM
Whittier at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
Video Live Stats
4:00 PM
Pacific at Pacific Lutheran
Video Preview Preview Live Stats Live Stats
4:30 PM
Lewis and Clark at Linfield
Video Live Stats Audio
5:00 PM
Framingham State at Mass-Dartmouth
Video Live Stats
5:00 PM
Averett at LaGrange
Live Stats Audio
5:00 PM
Whitworth at George Fox
Video Preview Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Olivet at Hope
Video Preview Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
6:00 PM
Bethany at Carnegie Mellon
Video Preview Preview Preview Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
St. Vincent at Case Western Reserve
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Christopher Newport at Rowan
Video Live Stats Audio Audio
6:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Western Connecticut
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Berry at Washington U.
Video Video Preview Preview Live Stats Live Stats Audio Audio
7:00 PM
North Park at Millikin
Video Live Stats
10:00 PM
Pomona-Pitzer at Chapman
Video Preview Live Stats Live Stats Tickets
10:00 PM
La Verne at Cal Lutheran
Video Preview Live Stats
10:00 PM
Occidental at Redlands
Video Live Stats Audio
Oct. 1: All times Eastern
Final
at Hobart 38, Merchant Marine 35
Box Score
Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Juniata 17
Box Score
Final
at Salisbury 41, TCNJ 6
Box Score
Final
Thomas More 45, at Westminster (Pa.) 35
Box Score
Final
Wabash 45, at Hiram 21
Box Score
Final
at St. John Fisher 28, Buffalo State 24
Recap
Final
Stevenson 48, at Misericordia 0
Final
at St. Lawrence 42, Springfield 14
Box Score
Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 41, Huntingdon 31
Box Score
Final
Mount Union 38, at Ohio Northern 21
Box Score
Final
Franklin 41, at Manchester 27
Box Score
Final
Wittenberg 41, at Wooster 13
Box Score
HALF
17 Wheaton (Ill.)
24 Illinois Wesleyan
Video Live Stats
4th - 10:31
20 UW-Whitewater
24 UW-Platteville
Video Live Stats Audio Audio
3:02 - 4th Qtr.
42 St. John's
27 Bethel
Video Live Stats Audio
HALF
3 McMurry
24 Mary Hardin-Baylor
Video Live Stats Audio
Start of 4th
29 Sul Ross State
39 Hardin-Simmons
Video Live Stats
HALF
32 East Texas Baptist
17 Belhaven
Video Live Stats
13:40 4th Q
35 Dubuque
17 Central
Video Live Stats Audio
4th - 06:42
7 Augsburg
55 St. Thomas
Video Live Stats
End of 1st Qtr.
0 UW-Stout
17 UW-Oshkosh
Video Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
4:30 PM
Lewis and Clark at Linfield
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Christopher Newport at Rowan
Video Live Stats Audio Audio