Marcol was refused admission at Michigan State because he supposedly could not pass the English requirement. "I don't think so," he says. "They say I couldn't pass the English entrance exam, but they never gave it to me. I could have entered that school as a foreign student with no problem because they offer many more languages. I could have taken Polish and Russian, which I speak."
MSU never bothered to exercise that option, but John Rowan, a Hillsdale graduate, did. He introduced Marcol to Waters and Marcol was enrolled at Hillsdale as a foreign student taking English as a foreign language. He has since been naturalized. It hardly seems too much to suggest that if Chester Marcol had been able to speak English, he might even now be kicking his long field goals on national television.
As an NAIA kicker, he is unrecognized and a bit bitter about the short shrift all kickers, especially foreign-born ones, get. A remark by Alex Karras, the former Detroit Lion defensive tackle, especially irritates him. Karras said, "I think those foreign soccer kickers should have their visas taken away from them and be returned to wherever they come from. The game is predicated around the touchdown, that's the way I feel about it."
Marcol, who is 6'1" and weighs 190 pounds, is a convincing rebuttal in action. He fields errant snaps from center like the goalie he was, made six solo tackles this year and threw a 38-yard scoring pass when a field-goal snap flew over his head. Indeed, Marcol, who was a defensive halfback and split end in high school, is most likely to jeopardize his pro chances through his outspoken love of contact.
Hillsdale College is about as well known to the public as Marcol, and with as little reason. The school has been best publicized for a UFO sighting there and for its academic dean, E. Harold Munn, the Prohibition Party candidate for President. Founded in 1844 by Free Will Baptists (it is nonsectarian now), Hillsdale graduated a first class of five that included a woman and a black man named Fisk who founded a school by the same name in Nashville. Hillsdale's major major is business administration and the fraternities claim about 45% of the students. The energetic new president, 36-year-old Dr. George C. Roche III, is a widely published economist-historian and friend of William F. Buckley Jr. The school is immensely proud of the fact that it has never accepted state or government aid. It is a quiet campus amid small hills in country more New England than Midwest in character and the most riotous sound emanating of a fall night is the military cadence of fraternity pledges reciting their chants.
Yet Hillsdale is less conservative than liberal, liberal in the classical mold of an institution that values individualism above all else. The school's motto is "Preparation for Leadership." Business leaders conduct seminars at the Dow Leadership Conference Center, and students are invited to watch through one-way mirrors. There are student-faculty committees and a student is expected ultimately to join the board of trustees. "We try to maintain values of human dignity and a belief in a powerful God, which in turn brings out the individual and his potential," says the president's assistant, Dr. Louis Pitchford, a big, friendly man with a remarkable resemblance to Senator Muskie.
Blending in very nicely with the school is the athletic department, which is run by the benevolent presence of Muddy Waters, who looks like a beardless Santa Claus with his white hair, ruddy face and laugh wrinkles around the eyes. There are only 48 tuition grants and no full rides for any sport. Most scholarship athletes come from out of state and work at part-time jobs to remain at Hillsdale. "I don't want an athletic dorm," says Waters. "I wouldn't take one if you gave it to me. I want our athletes to have the full college experience."
Marcol was at first very lost at Hillsdale. "My first kickoff went 20 yards," he says. "I began to ask myself, 'What am I doing here?' " (Interjects Waters, "So did I.") Marcol is now happy about his college experience, speaking English quite fluently—only an occasionally missing article gives his origins away—with the usual quota of "Oh, wow" and "man" in his vocabulary. He is a fraternity member, is pinned to a girl and lives in a typical off-campus bachelor pad with Saad Jallad, an Arab from Jerusalem who is Marcol's understudy on the team.
Last spring Marcol saved up his money to vacation in Florida. At the end of a week Waters, who also was in Florida at the time, asked him how he was doing. "Coach," Marcol said, "I'm spending money like mad. I came here with $17 and now I've got $6." Waters is anxious that Marcol isn't conned financially by the pros and a well-versed economist has been chosen to advise him at contract time. "Of course," says Waters, "we don't want to ask for too much. We just want Chester to earn a good salary."
You might say he already has earned it, Muddy.