The start to a college football career

Five seniors sign for football


Mya Stanberry

Seniors Stefano Giovanelli, Henry Bendickson, Zach Johnson and Henry Eaton await the start of a game Sept. 16. Five Park seniors have commited to play college football next year.

Jesse Belen


On Feb. 1, senior football players Stefano Giovannelli, Zach Johnson, Zach Helfmann, Henry Eaton, and Henry Bendickson committed to their respective colleges. Defensive coordinator Rob Griffin said he refuses to credit himself in their success. 

“Those five guys in particular have put in a ton of work to get themselves where they are at,” Griffin said. “The work they put in to receive this opportunity is strictly on them.” 

Giovannelli, who will be attending the University of St. Thomas, said the coaching staff was an important aspect of his high school football career. 

“My coaches taught me everything I know about football,” Giovannelli said. “I would be nowhere close to where I am right now without them.”  

According to Bendickson, who will be attending St. John’s University, committing to a college is important to him; because he can focus more energy on his future.

It lets me know that the hard work is paying off. There’s a lot more hard work to come, but it’s a good checkpoint for my dream trajectory. ”

— Stefano Giovannelli

“It’s a new gateway into a new piece of life,” Bendickson said. “That’s very cliche, but at the same time it holds a lot of meaning and a lot of truth. It’s an important step because it’s dedicating yourself to one thing.”

According to Giovannelli, committing is a reminder of the hard work he’s put into the sport. 

“It lets me know that the hard work is paying off,” Giovannelli said. “There’s a lot more hard work to come, but it’s a good checkpoint for my dream trajectory.” 

Griffin said that football isn’t just about the sport, but about the teammates that the players can call family. 

“Here, we preach family,” Griffin said. “When they go on, they’ll have a new family at whatever school they’re attending. A new band of brothers.”

Giovannelli said he quit the sport when he was young, but started up again his sophomore year and focused on improvement. 

“I actually played in third and fourth grade and then I quit because I didn’t think it was the right sport for me because of injuries and other things,” Giovannelli said. “Since sophomore year, (football has) been about learning to get more comfortable and improving as much as I can.” 

According to Bendickson, if something is worth anything in life, there will be hardships along the way. 

“There have been a couple times where it got a little hard but it’s how everything that’s worth it in life goes, there’s gonna be bumps in the road,” Bendickson said. “I realized a couple moments, a couple days, a week is not gonna change my entire life. Especially if it’s something that I know that I will enjoy doing past that week.”