By Doug Chapin
The University of Mount Union is the face of Division III college football in these parts and across the nation.
Tonight, the Purple Raiders will face St. Thomas, Minn., in the NCAA Division III national championship game. It is Mount Union’s 15th appearance in the final in the last 20 years.
There is another side of Division III football experienced by many area athletes, including twin brothers and Austintown Fitch graduates Dan and Mike Rasor. The two have just completed four years of football — one on the field and one on the sideline — at Thiel College in Greenville, Pa.
Mike, at 6-foot-2 and 257 pounds, was a three-year starter on the offensive line for the Tomcats.
Dan, quite a bit smaller than Mike, served as a student assistant coach under head coach Kurt Reiser.
“Mike played four years in our football program and really developed into a leader for us through his four years,” Reiser said. “He was a very good offensive lineman for us and was selected as a team captain by his teammates this year which we consider to be one of the highest honors you can get in our football program.
“Dan was a student assistant coach for us every year he has been here at Thiel and the last two years he’s been an assistant coach with me coaching our offensive line.
“Both young men were outstanding individuals for our football program, guys that we could really rely on and count on to do whatever was needed to help us.”
Dan got started coaching under Phil Annarella while at Fitch.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be an athlete being a little guy and slow, but I loved the game and wanted to find a way to stay around it, and Coach Annarella gave me an opportunity to work for him as a student coach while I was in high school,” he said.
“While I was looking at colleges and my brother was looking to play football because he was a good athlete at Fitch, I got in contact with Coach Reiser at Thiel and he said there would be opportunities for me to work.”
Dan, who is majoring in criminal justice with a minor in coaching, began working with video and then was brought on board as a student coach.
“I enjoy teaching. I’ve always loved the game of football and not being a good athlete myself I take pride in the game,” Dan said. “I think I know the game pretty well and to be able to teach it to a better athlete and see them succeed is rewarding.”
According to Mike, also a criminal justice major with a minor in sociology, there were no problems with his twin brother serving as his position coach.
“It was all great. Danny never played football, he is a good golfer, but he loves the game of football more than anybody I’ve ever seen,” Mike said. “He puts so much time into football, he’s always in the office when he’s got any free time. We are twin brothers but at practice he would tell me what to do. Danny’s done a great job and I’m so proud of him.
“I think he’ll make a great coach.”