“Remember you're only a freshman."
Those are the words of former Blooming Prairie High School star athlete Gabe Hagen's father, Dave Hagen. He makes that statement to his son when they talk about his playing time.
As a freshman (he was red shirted last year) Gabe, 20, is now a starter at tight end for the Minnesota State University Mankato (MNSU) Mavericks and has already caught two touchdown passes. He has totaled over 100 yards in receiving.
Since first attending MNSU, Hagen has worked on improving his blocking and by "working my butt off" he says he is hopeful of getting his name called more often as a receiving target.
Hagen was part of the 2019 Class 1A state championship football team. He also was part of the 2020 boys basketball Section 1A championship team.
Hagen, who weighs in at 250 pounds and measures 6 feet 4 inches, is very dedicated to his football program and to his studies, which will prepare him for a nursing career. He and fellow Blossom classmate Riauna Bishop often touch base about their future in nursing.
He said he will be starting nursing school soon. Mankato only allows 56 students in the program, Hagen said.
Gabe says he has definitely added muscle to his frame after he began a rigorous weight lifting program. He lifts regularly, something he says he did not do much as an Awesome Blossom football player.
"It's crazy how my body looks since I began this weight lifting program in college," Gabe remarked.
He says the lifting includes bench, squat and deadlift. He can bench press up to 300 pounds.
Locked into specific goals, one of his dream goals would be to play professional football. He said Adam Thielen, a MNSU graduate and currently a Minnesota Vikings football star, has been an inspiration to him.
"I definitely would like to play pro football if I could," he says.
For his football and nursing ambitions, Gabe says his immediate family has been a solid foundation for him. "My parents (Dave and Joan Hagen) come to every game," he related. Other family members and friends also lend him support while he is at MNSU.
Hagen said youngsters come up to him, happy to meet a college football player. " It's cool to see the Blooming Prairie community still supporting me," Hagen says.
Gabe was in town last week, cheering on the Awesome Blossoms, hopefully to another state championship.
When he is not playing football or studying, Hagen says he enjoys
"taking a nap" and loves watching TV and hanging out with friends. He lives off campus, in an apartment shared by fellow Blossom graduate Zach Archer.
Hagen says he is fortunate to have two "great coaches" in high school and college. He says Mavericks coach Todd Hoffman reminds him of his high school coach Chad Gimbel.
Coach Gimbel helped Hagen with the fundamentals of the game, Gabe says. Both he and Coach Hoffman are very straight forward, Hagen believes.
If the 2021 version of the Awesome Blossoms football team makes it to the state title game, you can bet that Gabe Hagen's 2019 unbelievable touchdown catch will be recalled by many fans and by Gabe Hagen.