Former Tornado Football Player Shares His Story of Perseverance at Cal

By Jacob Dimond / jake@yelmonline.com
Posted 7/26/22

After a dominant tenure as a Yelm Tornado, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Dylan Jemtegaard received 17 Division One scholarship offers to continue his football career.

Once Jemtegaard graduated in 2021, …

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Former Tornado Football Player Shares His Story of Perseverance at Cal

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After a dominant tenure as a Yelm Tornado, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Dylan Jemtegaard received 17 Division One scholarship offers to continue his football career.

Once Jemtegaard graduated in 2021, he enrolled at the University of California Berkeley in early July of the same year. He faced instant adversity.

After he completed training in the summer with his team, and fall camp neared its end, Jemtegaard went down with a severe knee injury. He tore his MCL, his medial patellofemoral ligament and partially tore his meniscus, leaving an 8-inch scar as a “battle wound.”

Due to the severity of the injury, Jemtegaard missed his freshman campaign, but he didn’t give up. He instead saw it as an opportunity.

Following his surgery and some time to heal, Jemtegaard began to rehabilitate his knee. He credited spending an hour in the training room each day as an important key to his recovery.

“Not having football for that long and watching my teammates be able to do what I want to do was hard,” Jemtegaard said. “I had to find internal motivation to keep pushing through everything.”

Jemtegaard indeed kept pushing. After some tough rehab and conditioning, he was ready to play and returned to practice for the 2022 spring ball season. Despite some minor setbacks along the way, Jemtegaard was able to finish the spring season.

According to Jemtegaard, the Cal Bears entered the 2022 spring football season with just 10 linemen, which provided him with an opportunity to get more reps and compete.

“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous before the spring season, but I was fortunate enough to have guys pushing me to bounce back from my injury,” he said. “At the same time, it was up to me to pick up my own slack. The team couldn’t wait for me to shake off the rust.”

Jemtegaard noted that Matthew Cindric, the starting center for the California Golden Bears, has been a mentor to him and helped him learn the position of center. Jemtegaard was formerly a left tackle for the Tornados, but made a switch after arriving on Cal’s campus.

“(Cindric) has pretty much been the guy that’s taught me the center position,” Jemtegaard said. “He’s helped me a lot and he’s a great guy all around. Everybody loves him and it’s been great getting to learn from him.”

He added that he’s thankful for how close the offensive line room is and said they’ve been “extremely helpful throughout the process.”



After a successful spring season following his injury, Jemtegaard was able to spend some down time reflecting on his situation.

“Getting through some tough times shows me some of the mental flexibility that I have,” he said. “Most college athletes don’t picture themselves getting injured their freshman year, so it was up to me to make the most of it.”

Jemtegaard also said he’s seen a change to his mindset, as far as football goes, since arriving at Cal. While in high school, he expected to always dominate the guys in front of him and would become frustrated if he lost a rep. Now, Jemtegaard uses each “lost” rep to grow as a player.

“You have to start finding things outside of just winning that you can grow from,” he said.

While Jemtegaard has learned a lot during his tenure as a Bear, he credits his former Tornado coaches for instilling him with a prominent trait.

“We’ve always keyed on that intensity and fire that we play football with at Yelm, and I’ve tried to bring that with me to Cal,” Jemtegaard said. “Guys that play with grit, they’re hard to come by. It was preached to me at Yelm to play with that level of intensity and it paid off.”

Aside from football, Jemtegaard has quite the loaded schedule. California-Berkeley is ranked as the seventh best university in the world, according to Times Higher Education, so his class schedule tends to be difficult.

Jemtegaard is currently undeclared with his major, but is studying in the field of mechanical engineering. He noted that pathway is very competitive at Cal-Berkeley, but he has been able to maintain a 3.0 grade-point average.

“It’s impressive to get done what we get done on a regular basis here at Cal,” Jemtegaard said. “I had to make sure I had my mental game on top of it.”

During his time as a Tornado, Jemtegaard earned South Sound Conference Linemen of the Year honors as a senior. He was the third Tornado linemen in a row to receive the recognition. He was also a three star offensive line prospect coming out of high school, according to 24/7 Sports.

While dominating on the field, Jemtegaard was also a successful track and field athlete in Yelm. He sports a personal record of 135 feet, 4 inches in the discus, and 46 feet, 5 inches in shot put.

He also served as a volunteer coach with the Thurston County Youth Football League Tornados program.

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