Football captain Chase to play for Div. l school

Leena Hussein and Benjamin Grimes

Viking senior captain Blake Chase charges into a St. Ignatius defender during the Vikings’ first home game of the season Aug. 27. Chase has played football for four years at Palo Alto High School, and is looking forward to his future in Division I college football, possibly playing in the NFL someday. “I mean, I have low odds [of playing pro], but you know, I got to picture it. Got to envision it. Got to go for it.” (Photo: Jonathan Chen)

The roar of the crowd, the crash of helmets colliding, and the yells of coaches and teammates — all familiar noises at a Palo Alto High School football game.

For wide receiver and senior Blake Chase, these sounds are what he has lived and breathed, spending countless hours perfecting his game. Now, the aspiring senior wide receiver star is continuing his football career through a Division I preferred walk-on offer from Wagner College in New York. 

“I really like the idea of playing at Wagner,” Chase said. “This place came in out of nowhere. … It’s just a high level of football.”

For Chase, he knows playing football in college won’t be easy. 

“It’s gonna take a lot,” Chase said. “I’m not the biggest kid in the world and the kids that play at the level [of Division I] are huge. I got to keep working out. Keep lifting, keep running, all that stuff, and prepare for no matter what.”

Apart from playing Division I in college, Chase also plans on studying sports management and journalism at Wagner College. However, he has greater aspirations for where his football career could take him over the next few years.

“Hopefully, [I am] starting and playing and actually getting some big numbers,” Chase said. “I mean, the dream really for everybody is to play pro. Right now I got no shot, but maybe if I just keep pushing, who knows?”

Chase didn’t have the smoothest start to his football career at Paly. After joining the team in his freshman year, he didn’t receive a minute of playing time. 

“I didn’t step on the field for my freshman year on JV,” Chase said. “I did not play and I was like, ‘Okay, hold on. I got to pick this up and make something out of this.’ I’ve always wanted to go pretty far in football and I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to play Division I, but I didn’t really get going until sophomore year.”

From there, Chase took off, climbing through the ranks to eventually become captain of the football team by his senior year. 

“It [football] is just a part of me,” Chase said. “I watch it all the time. Play it all the time, work out for it all the time. I love football.”

According to Chase, his parents’ support was an integral role in his success as an athlete.  

“I had a lot of support from my mom,” Chase said. “She always pushed me to keep playing, and my stepdad at the time, he was always a big, big factor in me playing, and my dad as well. … They all pushed me to keep going.” 

In addition to the support of his parents, the relationships with his coaches have guided Chase’s evolution into a stronger athlete as well. 

“One of my old receiver coaches told me that you have to picture … where you’re going to be, and putting that in your head is a big way to make it happen,” Chase said. “If you picture it every day, then you just strive for that and it’s something you have to work for. And having that vision in my head helps keep me going and will keep me going hopefully for the next four years.” 

Varsity football head coach Nelson Gifford has also been a significant part of Chase’s football journey since his freshman year.

“He [Chase] was absolutely a developmental player,” Gifford said. “… I don’t think you would’ve identified him immediately and say, ‘Oh, this kid is gonna be a collegiate athlete.’ There’s a lot of talented people in the world, but not everyone is able to maximize their potential. For someone like Blake, he has continually pushed the limits of what he’s capable of. And every year, he’s gotten better.”

Gifford offers some advice to Chase as he begins a new chapter in his football career.

“If you can combine talent and passion, you’re going to be successful,” Gifford said. “And he did that to football. He was talented enough. He was passionate about it. Now he’s reaping the rewards of that and just needs to continue that path.”

For Chase, football and the lessons it has taught him throughout his childhood will continue to stay with him no matter what path he chooses.

“Football just really taught me to keep going,” Chase said. “There’s so many obstacles in football and so many things that get in your way. You have to find a way to push through it all.”