Blake Treadwell: Evolution of a Leader
Sept. 11, 2013
By Aimee Dulebohn, MSU Athletic Communications Intern
Senior offensive guard Blake Treadwell has always had a close connection to Michigan State.
His father, Don, a former MSU football assistant coach who is now the head coach at Miami-Ohio, ingrained the Spartan way of life from a young age; however, it is his relationship with head coach Mark Dantonio that truly had an impact on where he would eventually play football. Most players have strong relationships with their head coach. For Treadwell, the relationship goes much deeper than most in that he plays for his own godfather.
"Coach D had a big influence on me," said Treadwell. "I've known him for as long as I can remember. I knew if I went to play for him, he would have the best interests for me. I went to East Lansing High School for my junior and senior year. So being close to Michigan State already, there was a hometown feel there for me. I felt very comfortable going to Michigan State."
Though he considers East Lansing home, being the son of a football coach led to Treadwell calling many cities across the country home throughout his life.
"I think I moved at least 10 or 11 times that I can remember," he recalled. "I went from Ohio to California to Boston to North Carolina, back up to Michigan to Indiana, Ohio and then back up to Michigan. But I would definitely say East Lansing is a hometown for me."
One might think that having your father as an expert in your sport may put more pressure on how you play. But for Treadwell, the stress was placed on another score.
"My dad was always hard on me about my grades," he said. "Every Monday, I would go into his office and we wouldn't even talk about football. We would first talk about how I was doing in my classes, my test scores and my assignments. He was very stern about grades, which helped me get on track so that now grades are no problem for me."
Treadwell's journey at MSU has been nothing short of eventful, as he has seen his fair share of ups and downs with injuries in each season he has been at Michigan State. However, his football career came full circle this season when he was chosen by his fellow Spartans as a team captain.
"It was a great honor," Treadwell said. "I've known these guys for a long time, especially the senior class. I try to help the young guys out because I've had so many experiences here. So if anything, the team choosing me was very heart warming. I knew that when they chose me that it was time for me to step up and be the leader that I needed to be. I was very humbled."
Though he has recently pushed himself to be more of a vocal leader, Treadwell is more comfortable leading by example. However, he claims he is one of many players that rise to the challenge of being a role model on the field and in the locker room.
"I knew that when my teammates chose me to be captain that it was time for me to step up and be the leader that I needed to be. I was very humbled."
"I mostly lead by example, but I do speak out here and there," explained Treadwell. "This team is very unique because I feel like there are a lot of leaders, such as (Andrew) Maxwell, Travis (Jackson) and Fou (Fonoti). We're all leaders of the team, which means that everybody knows what they do and can step up and be vocal."
Despite wins and losses, sacks and tackles, Treadwell knows it is important to realize the gift that playing for the Spartans has given him.
"I would say that my favorite part about being on this team is the relationships I have with the players," he said. "Coach D and Coach Dave (Warner) always say that one day football is going to be over. With my time winding down, what's going to keep me here and in my memories are the relationships I've formed with the guys that will last way past football.
"Especially football games and in life, you're going to have your highs and you're going to have your lows, but we all know that as a team, we have each other's back. So no matter what happens, you're going to be there for that person, thick or thin. That's one of our mottos is brotherhood and knowing that we will all be together, no matter what happens. When challenges come, we will band together and take on anything."
To those that may not know him, Treadwell has a dominant demeanor. However, he says he is not always the strong, serious type that everyone might ride him off to be.
"I have a little bit of a sense of humor, nothing huge, but I think a lot of people think that I'm just this big, serious guy that never laughs or smiles," Treadwell said. "I laugh, smile and joke around with the guys. For some reason, everyone just thinks I'm this hardcore, serious guy that just doesn't budge. That's not me."
Treadwell did not always have the lineman-stature that he carries today. Though many wouldn't dare pick on him these days, he dealt with his fair share of bullying when was in elementary school. The experience not only built the strong character he has today, but has given him the ability to give advice to those dealing with similar issues.
"My parents knew what was going on so they helped out a lot and talked me through it," stated Treadwell. "I think if anything my advice to parents would be to know their kids. Parents should know if their kid is having any trouble, because they will show it when they're at home. Parents should really watch their kids, make sure they're ok, talk to them. Don't think everything is fine, because it might not be. Also, it's about having good friends. I had a really good friend that helped me out a lot and that I was able to rely on. He really helped me pushed through some stuff. Stepping up and being a good friend to somebody can make a huge difference."
With the ability to influence others around him on the team, Treadwell hopes he can have an impact on his teammates and help them become leaders to the next generation of Spartans.
"I just want to be known as a guy that will be there for you," he said. "I told a lot of the younger guys just what a grind college football can be your first year. You never go through something like it, no matter what high school you come from. You come here to Michigan State and it's a whole new ball game.
"I just want to be known as one of the older guys that helped the younger guys out if they needed help or had questions. I'll always be there to give them the best advice that I can. I don't want to be that older guy that just was selfish and stuck to himself and only worried about himself. I want to be that guy that reached out to younger guys, made them feel more at home so that when they're seniors, they know how to act with the younger players as well."
Given his background, it is only fitting that Treadwell would someday like to be a football coach himself. Without a doubt it's in his blood, but it's the man that Treadwell has become through his experiences that makes him an ideal leader.
Getting to Know Blake Treadwell
Major: Sociology (Academic All-Big Ten)
Favorite memory at MSU: "Winning the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl sticks out for me. That game was a big reward for all the turmoil that we faced that year."
Best piece of advice: "There is a John Wooden quote: `If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything.'"
Favorite city ever visited: "I would have to say Cupertino, California. My dad coached at Stanford and it was great weather, 70 degrees every day. You just can beat that."
This feature was originally published in the Sept. 7 edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.