Glad to be back (Football)

Tania Ganguli

Frank Bass and Northwestern were on a break for two years, but in the fall of 2003 he came back.

Back to NU football and back to the girlfriend who would later become his fiancee.

The senior wideout was just a freshman when he met softball player J.C. Kira in the library. The athletes were fulfilling their mandatory study skills requirement.

He and Noah Herron, his roommate and best friend, spotted Kira because she had some “weird Japanese food” according to Herron. The two outspoken football players didn’t hesitate to approach her.

“Me and Noah were like let’s go ask that girl for some food because we never studied during study skills,” Bass said with a broad smile on his face. “Actually I think we were trying to hook her up with one of our friends and it didn’t work out.”

But it worked out well for Bass. For Valentines Day that year Bass made her a surprise and left it in front of her door.

“He made a little garden and a little vase out of folder paper and colored it with markers,” Kira said.

After his freshman year Bass entered a difficult period in his life in which he felt like he needed to take some time away from NU and Division I football. The receiver transferred to St. Olaf in Minnesota and stayed there for two years before coming back to NU.

He’s waited four years, but Bass will finally be an active member of the Wildcats’ football team next season.

Essentially, Bass has had two redshirt seasons with the Cats to prepare for this year. There was the 2000 season and then the 2003 season, which he had to sit out because of transfer rules.

He went to preseason camp in 2001 the year after his redshirt season but quit the team afterwards. Bass’s grades were suffering, and he decided he didn’t want to stay at NU.

“I was sick of football, sick of the school, and a little homesick, I can’t lie,” Bass said. “So I was like I need to go home I need to get out and start over.”

In high school Bass was a four sport athlete, he played basketball, football, golf and ran track, but basketball was the sport he loved. Bass realized that he had a better shot at playing football than basketball at a Division I school, but he struggled to stay motivated with football.

“Towards the end (of my freshman year) I just realized I can’t do this every year,” Bass said. “I didn’t love football like that.”

Bass said he needed to go home and start over. Few of the people close to him agreed with his decision.

Herron didn’t want him to leave, but came to accept it — the fact that Bass visited him often helped. Bass and Kira split up when he left NU and the two didn’t speak while he was at St. Olaf.

When Bass went back to Minneapolis, Minn., he stayed with a friend and his cousins.

“It was hard to go home because my mom was pretty mad at me,” Bass said. “I didn’t live with her a lot when I went home. I didn’t even talk to my mom until the summer after the first year (at St. Olaf).”

That wasn’t a new situation for Bass. In high school he transferred from his small high school in Fairwood, Minn., a town of about 20,000, to a larger public school in Minneapolis.

His cousin, Brian Bass, taught at his new high school. Although Bass’s cousin was never his teacher in school, he had been teaching Bass for years.

With Bass’s father in Texas, it was his cousin who took on the paternal role for Bass.

“He’s the one who pushed me like your dad usually pushes you,” Bass said. “But he was my friend too.

“Like I told him about girls and stuff, and he used to help me with that too because I was kind of a shy kid.”

When Bass moved to Minneapolis in high school he lived with his cousin for six months before his mother moved into the city. He lived briefly with his mother, but they clashed and he soon moved back in with his cousin.

Sometimes Bass still stays with his cousin when he goes home, but he said his relationship with his mother is better now.

His plan was to stay at St. Olaf for just a year.

“I guess I had a bad shot right from the get go,” Bass said. “I was like I’m there I’m gonna leave, and I don’t want to meet anybody.

“At the end of the year I was actually enjoying it. The professors were super cool, and football the coaches were like I want you to stay and I was like, ‘O.K.'”

He spent two years at St. Olaf before transferring back to NU. Bass said the competition level at the Division III school wasn’t enough of a challenge for him.

When Herron heard that Bass was thinking about returning , he encouraged it.

“I told him he shouldn’t have left in the first place,” Herron said. “I was pushing come on, come on, come back. Not just for the football thing, but for school. He started here, he should finish here.”

Bass transferred back to NU in 2003 and walked back on to the team. Walker didn’t talk to Bass before he transferred back, but said that someone leaving and returning to the team was nothing new.

“We virtually take anybody that wants to be here,” Walker said.

Bass and Kira resumed their relationship shortly after he returned and Bass proposed in January.

It had snowed that day and the couple went for a walk at night. As they were walking through the Shakespeare Garden, they came up to a bench.

Herron had put two dozen flowers on the bench earlier.

“I was surprised he asked me then,” Kira said. “We had talked about it before, but I was surprised in the moment.”

Now Bass splits his time between football, his five classes, playing video games with Herron and spending time with Kira.

He said he’s excited to finally get a chance to play, but won’t get his hopes up.

“I could get injured, there could be a freshman who comes in and beats me out,” Bass said.

“At this point, I don’t care.”

He’s got other things to worry about.

Like planning a wedding.