Summer 2019

Gridiron gratitude

When working out, Malic Selimi wears a pink headband in honor of two friends' mothers, who are breast cancer survivors.
Photography by Brady Willette

Having moved often during his childhood, Malic Selimi found a home in an unlikely place: the gridiron. “When I play football, I’m happy,” says the son of immigrant parents from the former Yugoslavia.

Eleven years after first putting on a helmet, he’s a starting offensive lineman for the University of Minnesota Crookston and recipient of the Ed Widseth Scholarship for Academic and Athletic Excellence. 

A senior studying criminal justice, Selimi is planning a career in law enforcement.

What does football mean to you?

It’s not just about winning. It’s about the people I play with and learning about accountability, leadership, and being honest. I know I can’t play forever, but being a leader? I can take that with me. 

What’s it like to be the first in your family to go to college?

It’s a pretty big deal. My parents held me to a high standard, and they knew I was capable of making it to college, but it was never guaranteed. Football changed things. I got recruited, and that’s when we realized college was possible.

How has scholarship support made a difference?

My family was shocked by it. We didn’t expect it. But it’s taken so much stress off their shoulders, off my shoulders. Having that financial reassurance is great.