WOLFVILLE, N.S. - By John DeCoste '77 - Acadia football Axemen receiver Glodin Mulali wants to succeed at his chosen sport, but a lot more important to him is that the team enjoys success as a whole.
The evolution of Mulali's football career has been a bit of a whirlwind to say the least. Born in Nigeria, he emigrated to Moncton, New Brunswick with his family when he was in Grade Nine.
That summer, he met Dylan Tabone, the starting quarterback for the Harrison Trimble Trojans, their high school's football team. The two became good friends, and noticing Mulali's speed and athleticism, Tabone suggested he should consider coming out for football.
Tabone, Mulali points out, "didn't explain anything" about the game. Given that where he came from, football meant soccer, the first tryout he attended "wasn't what I was expecting, but I tried it. The first week, I had no clue, but I was enjoying it and didn't want to stop."
When tryouts for the soccer team started, Mulali had a choice to make, and he chose football. "I played all three years I was in high school." His first year, playing both receiver on offense and halfback on defense, he earned a Rookie of the Year award.
After his first year, he tried out for the provincial team, and was fortunate enough to make the team. "I made it because I was athletic," he says, "that was the only reason."
Nonetheless, he "picked the game up quickly." In his Grade 11 year, he was a league all-star. In Grade 12, even despite missing part of the season due to injury, he again made the all-star team.
He also made the provincial team for a second straight year, "and this time, I got to start. At first, I had played mostly defensive back, but the second year, they wanted me to be a receiver."
Also in his Grade 12 year, he earned Offensive Player of the Year honours for the New Brunswick high school league. His goal was to qualify for the national team program. "After I got hurt halfway through the season, I lost hope. I don't know how, but I ended up making the U-18 national team in my Grade 12 year," and got to attend an international camp in Orlando, FL.
Since then, he made the U-19 national team, got to attend the International Bowl in Arlington ,TX, and
earlier this summer, participated in the U-19 world championships in Mexico.
Overall, getting to compete at the national and international level "has been a great experience for me. I'm learning a lot, getting great coaching," and through the added exposure, "becoming a better player."
In the meantime, he had graduated from Grade 12. Due to his injury, he wasn't heavily recruited by universities, but by that time, he knew he wanted to play university football.
"My first choice was Ottawa, and in this conference, St. F.X. I visited X, Mount Allison and Saint Mary's, but when I visited Acadia, I knew this was where I wanted to be.
"I came here on a visit and met coach Cummins. He's one of the best coaches I've ever played for. He coached U-19 in Florida when I was U-18," and was also part of the coaching mix at the U-19 worlds this summer in Mexico. "I really respect who he is and what he stands for."
His speed and athleticism aside, it took time for Mulali to adjust to university football, but he has been more than willing to learn, and do whatever it takes to become better.
"My first five games here, I didn't even dress. The last five games, I actually started. I went from not dressing at all to starting. It was kind of overwhelming." He made a good first impression, catching nine passes for 150 yards. Despite getting into only five games, he averaged 16.7 yards per catch, and 30 yards per game, and was the football Axemen Co-Rookie of the Year.
"Three or four years ago, my goal was just to make the national team. It was a long shot for me, but I've worked really hard, which in turn opens up opportunities for you."
His last four years, he says, have been "ridiculously awesome. I've come a really long way in a short time, and I've gotten to make so many great friends, all across the country."
Mulali stands 5'11" and is listed at 175 pounds. "I'm not all that tall. I've never been the biggest, or the fastest, or the strongest, and I have a high metabolism which makes it hard for me to gain weight." What he has done, and done well, is make the best of the skills he has. "My goal coming in here was to work on my speed and athleticism, and the size and strength will come. The coaches just want me to be able to catch the ball, run with it and gain yardage."
After a reasonably successful freshman year, Mulali is "really looking forward" to the 2018 season, even though he admitted to "being more nervous because people are expecting more of me."
At the same time, "one of my coaches told me something once that changed my life. He said, 'if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will'. That's been my motto ever since. It's the same in life."
The Axemen enter the 2018 season as the defending conference champions. "I'm excited for the season to start," Mulali says. "We have a lot of explosive players on offense," including a potential game-breaking receiver in Cordell Hastings as well as Dale Wright, who "led the conference in rushing" with 1,030 yards and was named AUFC Player of the Year (as well as Acadia's Male Athlete of the Year).
The Axemen look solid and "really strong" on defense, led by all-Canadian linebacker Bailey Feltmate and all-conference cornerback Jadin White-Frayne. Second year defensive lineman Anderson Recker joined Glodin and coach Cummins at the U-19 worlds.
"We'll be explosive on offense and strong on defense," Glodin predicted. "Our coaching is awesome, and we have the experience of winning the conference last year, which is something we can build on."
Glodin believes his teammates share his work ethic and desire to become better through hard work and perseverance. "We've all become better through hard work, and (coach Cummins) really believes in us. It's a great thing for us to have a coach like that."
Needless to say, as a receiver, Glodin is most familiar with that position. "We only lost one receiver (Eugene McMinns) from last season," and while he will be missed, "everybody else is back, and we're all better (than a year ago). Our receiving corps is all young. We'll all be here for a while."
In terms of the team, Glodin says, "I want us to win again." Personally, "I don't have many goals. I want to do whatever the team needs, and the coaches want me to do. If I can do that, everything else should fall into place."
Glodin is entering the second year of an engineering program. "It's a minimum three-year program, but I might end up staying an extra year. I don't know yet. It depends on how things go." He is "leaning toward civil engineering. My goal is to get a degree, and also go as far as I can playing football."
As far as football is concerned, "since Grade 10, I haven't had goals, just dreams, and I'm living my dream right now." At present, "I'm an inside receiver, but the coaches have told me I have the ability to play outside. I got reps last season both inside and outside. It's to my advantage to be versatile."