The Wisconsin-Whitewater football team is currently riding a 5-game win streak, heading into this weekend's regular season finale at home. One of the team's MVPs isn't a player on the field, but rather someone behind the scenes - doing the dirty work.
"Ha, he's something else," said Warhawk offensive lineman Michell Schauer, referring to the team's equipment manager, Brent Ellison. "[Brent's] definitely to the point. He's definitely someone who brightens up the locker room, brightens up everything about it. [He] makes you smile and appreciate every day that you're out there."
It's high praise for Ellison, who has been the team's equipment manager for five years. Warhawk players say if you're around the team, you can't miss him.
"[Brent] definitely makes his presence known when he's out here on the field, at practice, or on the sideline during games or in the locker room," said Schauer. "He's here, and he hasn't missed anything that I'm aware of."
As the team's equipment manager, Ellison does the grunt work - the laundry and basically making sure that every player has everything they need. Ellison is on the autism spectrum, and works closely the Center for Students with Disabilities Office on campus. But as you heard, he never misses practice.
"[Brent] always has a towel out for me," said Warhawk wide receiver Marcus Hudson. "[He's] ready to give it to me right away when I'm in there, always saying 'hi'. He's always smiling. He's just great to have around."
"I treat [the football players] as if they're my fraternity brothers," said Ellison. "It was difficult to fit in when it all started. But after a couple weeks, it slowly gets me to be part of something bigger."
Remember that division three football is different than bigger programs - meaning players don't get scholarships, and they make do with a lot of volunteer help.
"The people who are here do it because they love it," said Warhawk football coach Kevin Bullis. "They love the game, they love being a part of a group, a team, a unit. [They love] pushing towards a common good and a common goal."
Ellison will be recognized, along with all the other seniors, when the Warhawks close out the regular season on Saturday against UW-Eau Claire.