A product of one of Cascia Hall’s many state championship football teams, Dan Dixon naturally wanted to continue his football career in college.
Little did he know that his gridiron odyssey would take him to three Division I football programs and across two continents before he would hang up his shoulder pads.
Dixon started his college career at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., but decided to return closer to home and walked on at the University of Oklahoma. However, a nagging injury incurred at Cornell hampered his efforts. He played for two years at OU before graduating with a degree in political science.
While pursuing a master’s degree in public policy at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., Dixon found that, through a quirk in the NCAA rules, he had eligibility left. He played two seasons (21 games) at defensive back for the Wildcats.
He is likely the only person to play football in the Ivy League, Big 12 Conference and the Big Ten Conference.
And, oh, yes, along the way, Dixon was named to the All-Big 12 Academic Team, won the Derrick Shepard Award for the most inspirational player at OU and later was named to the All-Big 10 Academic Team.
If that weren’t enough, Dixon closed out his playing career with the Dusseldorf Panther, a German pro team while working in Europe. Today, he lives in Tulsa and works in finance with the Fredric Russell Investment Management Co.
TulsaPeople spoke to Dixon about his unique football career.
What was the highlight of your Cascia Hall career? No doubt, it was winning the state championship in football my junior year. Playing for Coach Joe Medina was great.
How did your move to OU come about? I was recruited to Cornell as a running back. In early season workouts that August, I suffered a hip injury. I was unable to play any games that season, and I took a medical leave of absence the next season trying to get back to 100 percent. I then decided to come back to Oklahoma and try to get well and then play football at OU. I always wanted to play defense, and at OU I played safety.
What made you decide to walk on at OU? I probably had a chip on my shoulder after suffering my injury at Cornell and enduring all the frustration it brought on. I had a lot of confidence in my abilities, but I had two All-Americans — Brodney Pool and Donte Nicholson — playing in front of me. But I was able to gain the attention of the coaches because I played hard in practice and made a lot of plays. Playing at OU was very demanding and very challenging, yet it was very rewarding.
How would you compare the football programs at Cornell, OU and Northwestern? OU was the closest to professional football. The expectations of the college athlete were the highest there. Cornell was completely the other side of the coin. But Northwestern was the perfect blend of the two, and I think that’s why I enjoyed my time there so much.
How would you describe your football career? My football career was somewhat of a rollercoaster and was filled with a lot of challenges, but I’m proud of myself for the way I handled all of it. I credit much of my college football success to trainer Jay Schroeder, based out of Phoenix, Ariz. He was instrumental in helping me overcome my injury and transformed me from a mediocre Ivy League player to an exceptional college athlete. I would also like to add what an important role my family had in helping me navigate my career. Without their love and support, I certainly would not have recovered from my injury and finished my career on a positive note.
How did you start playing for a German team? It was by far the most fun thing I had done since high school in terms of football. I was working in Germany as a commodities trader. The league there has some ex-NFL players and some American ex-
college players. It was on par with the 1-AA football that we have here in the states. My friends encouraged me to try it. I played in 16 games for Dusseldorf and it was awesome. I really enjoyed it.
What intangibles do you think you gained from your college football experience? I think I learned how to be more adaptable and learned more about the ability to overcome challenges. Playing for three different programs in a relatively short time required me to learn to adjust to different situations, different environments and totally different styles of play.
What brought you back to Tulsa, and what have you done since? I love Tulsa for many reasons; the quality of life is exceptional, the neighborhoods are beautiful, and the economy is booming. Mostly though, what brought me back to Tulsa was my family and professional opportunities.