Most players join the Pittsburgh Colts semipro football team to extend their football playing days post-college.
Every so often there is the case of a young player trying to start a collegiate playing career via the Colts. That is goal of former West Allegheny standout Dustin Windemaker.
A physically-imposing lineman at West Allegheny, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Windemaker received plenty of college interest while in high school, even taking an unofficial visit to Temple University. That interest cooled after Windemaker sustained a concussion during his senior year and his grades suffered. Now he is trying to revive it through the local semipro team under the tutelage of owner and coach Ed Brosky.
Brosky, a member of the 1976 University of Pittsburgh national championship-winning team, has been coaching the Colts since their inception in 1979.
"Playing at this level, we are classified as amateur athletes and his eligibility is intact," Brosky said of Windemaker. "Dustin is 265 pounds of lean muscle; with his frame he can put on another 40 pounds."
After West Allegheny, Windemaker went one year without football in his life.
"I got out of high school and got a job and then I realized how much I missed football," Windemaker.
Windemaker and Brosky crossed paths at a KFC restaurant where Brosky works. Brosky immediately recognized Windemaker from his playing days at West Allegheny.
"Every time he came in I recruited him," Brosky said. "I told him if you still have a desire to play football, we are going to take you and hammer out the rough edges, put you on tape and send those to college coaches. I am not shy about picking up the phone and calling anyone. I love my team and I love my players."
Off the field, Windemaker completed a semester of school at CCAC this past spring where he maintained a 2.5 GPA. He is also preparing to take the SATs.
On the field, Brosky is adding tools to Windemaker's repertoire, including long-snapping. Windemaker plays pulling guard on offense and defensive end and outside linebacker on defense. He is on every special teams unit except kickoff coverage. If that was not enough workload, before one game this year he worked construction with his dad before kickoff.
"As soon as I got into the game my legs were dead but I had to play through it," Windemaker said.
Being 19 years old and playing against college graduates should seemingly add to the difficulties for Windemaker, but the problems have usually been for Windemaker's opponents. Brosky, who does essentially everything for the Colts organization besides play, noticed rips and tears in Windemaker's jersey when he was washing uniforms after a recent game.
"He has great feet and he can run, at this level he is playing against men and not only is he holding his own, he has dominated play at time," Brosky said. "He is chasing quarterbacks sideline to sideline, they [opposing linemen] are clutching and holding him."
In one game a player blocking Windemaker was flagged three times for holding.
"They could have called it 10 times," Brosky said. "I have to sew his shirt."
Windemaker is the youngest player to play for the Colts since 1997 when a player named Early Work joined the team directly from South Side Beaver High School.
"I am just trying to keep up with everyone. It is a little tough, there are some big guys and I am just 19," Windemaker said. "Those kids from Duquesne are showing me some new stuff, I am just trying to learn their techniques."
Four games into the nine-game season, the Pittsburgh Colts are 3-1 in the Semi Professional Football (SPF) League. This is their first year in the two-year-old league. They started the season 2-0 with wins against the Cleveland Warriors and Akron Silverbacks before penalties and turnovers in the fourth quarter cost them a game against the New York Sting. They bounced back Saturday with a 26-0 win against the Cleveland Warriors.
"I am pretty sure we have corrected all the mistakes we made the week before," Brosky said referencing the loss to New York. "We just had too many mental errors, there hasn't been many physical errors."
The Colts return to action at home against the Buffalo Hornets at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Chartiers Valley High School.