Albertville senior offensive lineman Walter Black was researching colleges on the Internet when he discovered Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.
Dordt’s website describes it as an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective whose mission is to equip students, alumni and the broader community to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life.
The college is consistently ranked in lists of best colleges by the U.S. News and World Report, Princeton Review and Washington Monthly. This year, the Wall Street Journal named Dordt the No. 1 school in the nation for student engagement, a measure of how inspired, informed and challenged students are.
During a Jan. 11 ceremony in the AHS library, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Black signed the scholarship papers to become a Dordt student and a member of the Defenders football team, which competes in the NAIA Division II Great Plains Athletic Conference.
“I saw football as a key to get a successful life and a good future,” said Black, who transferred to Albertville from Guntersville. Black was a two-year starter on the Wildcats’ offensive line.
“I was honestly looking for forensic science as a major, but they have a great biology department that can open myself up to a master’s in forensic science,” Black said. “I plan on majoring in biology.”
The son of Brian and Elizabeth Black played offensive tackle for AHS and Guntersville. He was chosen All-Marshall County as a junior and senior and made honorable mention 6A, All-Region 7 in 2017.
Albertville head coach Dale Pruitt praised Black for his character, work ethic and contributions to the Aggie program.
“In the fall, Walter was a solid starter and got better each week and led by example. I don’t think I’ve ever had to call him down for anything as far as being out of line.
“He was always a leader, just did a great job academically and on the football field and fit right in.”
Tyler Reeves, who serves as an AHS assistant principal and the school’s athletic director, said Black owns a 3.6 grade-point average.
“Walter opened doors by working hard in the classroom,” Reeves said. “NAIA schools value academics, and by going to Dordt he will be able to play football and get a great education.”
Albertville offensive line coach Jimmy Patterson expects Black to play an interior position, either guard or center, for Dordt College.
“From day one Walter came in and he worked hard and kept his mouth closed,” Patterson said.
“As we got to start forming a relationship and a bond throughout the spring and summer, he wanted to know how he could improve himself. As long as any kid stays hungry like that and wants to build step by step in the process, that’s all you can ask for as a coach.
“That’s what Walter did and I see that happening in the next phase of his life, and he’ll be a successful young man.”
Black and Dordt College head coach Joel Penner have discussed the possibility of his seeing playing time as a freshman. The Defenders, who finished 5-5 overall and 3-5 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference in 2017, lost two starters on the offensive line.
“They said I have a very good chance of starting as a freshman,” Black said. “Once again, it comes down to am I going to give the time and I know I will, but I’ll have that competition with the other players they sign.”
Black had no second thoughts about his transfer from Guntersville to Albertville. He enrolled at AHS in January of 2017.
“I loved it,” he said. “Honestly, I made more friends here than I had at Guntersville. I’m still good friends with the people at Guntersville, but just coming here has been an experience.
“I never thought I would transfer schools, but it’s just been an experience I would not trade anything for.”
During his sophomore season in 2015, Black excelled for a Guntersville squad that posted a 10-0 regular season record and finished 12-1 overall.
“I was spoiled my first time playing,” he said. “We went 10-0 at Guntersville. I was spoiled.
“One of the memories I most cherish was the first time I lost. It taught me to deal with it and not be one of those sore losers and just keep going.”