Former Rocket Opelt enjoying life after footballWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
Hangin’ ’em up for good is a sobering reality for many athletes once their playing days are done. If they play their cards right, however, life after the game can be a new beginning. Such is the case with former University of Toledo quarterback Aaron Opelt, who was recently hired as a sales and marketing representative of the SLI Products Group for Crown Battery Manufacturing Company in his hometown of Fremont.
“It’s been great,” Opelt said in a phone interview with Toledo Free Press. “I was fortunate to play four years at Toledo in football. I think that the discipline and the motivation that I developed while playing football along with the classwork just really prepared me to get a good internship and go into the working world.”
Established in 1926, Crown Battery produces lead-acid batteries for a host of applications. An organizational leadership and management major at UT, Opelt graduated from the College of Business Administration in December. He started as an intern at Crown Battery in September.
“I’ve met a lot of great people. I was fortunate to be at a company where I grew up, in Fremont,” Opelt said.
Opelt finished his career with the Rockets in 2009 as the school’s fourth all-time leader in career passing with 6,804 yards, also ranking second all-time in passing attempts (1,074) and completions (625) and third all-time in touchdown passes (46). Unfortunately, the Fremont Ross graduate’s productive college career did not translate into a professional football opportunity. After a great start to his senior season in 2009, Opelt suffered a devastating blow against Western Michigan that changed the course of his gridiron success. Opelt landed awkwardly when he was tackled on a play, partially tearing the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder.
“Once graduation came around, I was still working out,” Opelt said. “I realized the best days of my football life were probably over, and it was time to move on and start a new chapter.”
Despite the setback, Opelt remained focused on the opportunity he had with his education. While Opelt said there were many professors who influenced in his education at Toledo, he credited Dr. Clinton Longenecker as a vital part of his success. A 1973 graduate of Central Catholic, Longenecker serves as the Stranahan Professor of Leadership and Organizational Excellence in the College of Business Administration at UT.
“He’s a great professor,” Opelt said. “He cares about each student he has, and I think you could say that any student that he’s ever had in class will vouch to say that he’d do anything for them. That’s just the type of professor he is.”
Longenecker said Opelt “is a wonderful example of a great young man with a bright future. My wife Cindy and I found it a privilege to get to know him and watch him handle both great success, like beating Michigan, and then handling the disappointment of getting hurt at the high point of his career. He is from a wonderful family and community and represents the very best things about college athletics, our College of Business and Innovation and The University of Toledo.”
For Opelt, going to college was never just about playing football, something he learned at a young age.
“Education has always been very important to me,” Opelt said. “That was something that my parents developed when I was young. You didn’t go to school to play football; you went to school to go to school and to play football. I wouldn’t have changed anything. Toledo was a great choice for me.”