A table in The Loft overlooking the football field seemed like an appropriate place to meet senior Tobias Knight. It’s a few days after an April snowstorm and a plow is clearing off the St. Thomas field as Knight reflects on his four years as a linebacker. Without a doubt, playing football is one of the highlights of his time at St. Thomas – especially the epic Tommie-Johnnie showdown at Target Field, but Knight has so much more to talk about than just his days on the gridiron.
A thoughtful conversationalist, over the course of nearly an hour Knight explains his plan of going into banking (he’s a finance major) after graduation, followed a few years later by graduate school (his goal – Harvard). Eventually he’d like to pursue a career in one or more of the areas he’s particularly passionate about – children, the environment and education. Raised by his mother Jacie, the founder and artistic director of Youth Performance Company, Knight was taught from a young age to have an open mind and an open heart, something that’s evident during our insightful chat.
Drawn to St. Thomas because of a “phenomenal scholarship” (the Dease Scholarship) and the opportunity to play football, he smiled as he described his university experience as “rewarding and enriching.”
A Renaissance man of sorts, during his four years at St. Thomas Knight was involved in an eclectic lineup of activities – football; choir; undergraduate student government (vice president of diversity); the Diversity in Business Club (president); study abroad; and, his current sport of choice, rugby. While he loved being on the football field, he was equally as comfortable roaming the halls of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. When it came time to answer some of our pressing Humans of St. Thomas questions, Knight – a finalist for this year’s Tommie Award – embraced the challenge.
What do you do when you have free time?
I love to watch movies. I love Wes Anderson – I think he’s such a creative, fascinating director. My mom and I have a dog, so we like to hang out with him – a Catahoula Leopard mix named Zipper. He’s awesome. I like to hammock when it’s warm outside, and I have a portable ENO hammock so it’s really fun. I love to explore different parts of the city, try new places and go to art museums. The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art are some of my favorite spots.
What’s one of the highlights from your time at St. Thomas?
I’ve been able to study abroad every single year. My freshman year I went to Rome, and later that year I went to Peru with choir. Sophomore year I went to the Dominican Republic. Junior year I went to South Africa. This past J-Term, I went to Puerto Rico on a VISION trip. Each trip is fascinating and intriguing in its own way. It’s definitely something St. Thomas has given me and I’ve invested in. It’s paid dividends up to this point. Each experience taught me more about myself and what type of person I want to become.
If you could have a meal with one famous person, who would it be?
There are actually a few people. The first one would be Muhammad Yunus; he’s a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He’s actually started microfunding in areas all over the world that need it the most, and acted as an economic catalyst for growth. Super fascinating guy. Another person is Luka Sabbat. He’s a creative entrepreneur, an innovator in the fashion industry. Then there’s Vuyile Cameron Voyiya, a South African artist. President Barack Obama – that would be really fun and intriguing, too.
What’s something people don’t know about you?
I was a part of 4-H Club. My uncle has a small hobby farm in Cologne, Minn., and ever since I was 5 or 6, I would show Black Angus steers at the Carver County Fair and then, later, the Minnesota State Fair. I did that until I was 18.
Do you have a favorite place you like to go on campus?
I really do like the “Blue Lagoon” (student lounge) in Murray-Herrick Campus Center. It’s fantastic. It’s relaxing. It’s a good place to get a lot of reading done or just hang out with friends, chat a bit. Obviously, I love the Anderson Student Center. It’s the epicenter of campus. There I get to see a lot of different people, a lot of my friends, we get to interact, and I think that’s important at a university.
What’s the last thing you bought online?
It was by Yellow Days; he’s a musician. I bought his vinyl even though I don’t have a record player, yet. Right now it’s for the aesthetic of my room.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned out on the football field?
There have been so many. We’ve all worked so hard, the team has worked so hard, and the fact that I was a part of the culture … it’s hard to put into words how much the football program here has meant to me. You have to be resilient and work hard. I’ve had coaches that I consider fathers to me now, who pushed me in ways that they thought I could be pushed and stretched. It’s a good time, and I’m glad that I finished out doing all four years, and I’m glad I’ve built such fantastic relationships, and such mentorships, and such figures in my life. Everything on the football field translates to something that will make you a better man. A better person.