Dance Student Trying His Luck At National Football-Throwing Competition

In order to fund his education, Michael Morris, Jr. needs to win the grand prize.

Photo via Boston Conservatory

Screenshot via Boston Conservatory on YouTube

Boston Conservatory dance student Michael Morris, Jr. wants to become the greatest classical ballet dancer in the world, but in order to accomplish that goal, he’s searching for ways to fund his education through financial aid and scholarships.

His latest venture requires him to step out of his comfort zone, and try his hand at an activity he doesn’t have much experience with: football.

“This is the one sport I have never played in my life. Now I am being forced to play it,” he said.

For the last several months, for 45 minutes everyday, Morris has been practicing with friends and faculty from the Boston Conservatory to prepare him for a once-in-a-lifetime shot at scoring $100,000 in tuition assistance by throwing footballs into a giant Dr. Pepper can at a national competition.

On Thursday, Morris will head out to the “Dr. Pepper Giveaway” held at the Pac-12 football championship in Arizona to take on four other competitors in the semifinals. If he wins, he’ll compete in the final round at the big game Saturday during halftime.

He has already secured $2,500 for making it through to the first round of the competition, by winning votes online based on a video submission he sent to the company. Applicants had to persuade the beverage company that they needed the money in order to attain a dream that will help give back to the community and “change the world.”

Once it’s his turn during the challenge this week, Morris will be tasked with tossing as many footballs into a barrel as he can in 30 seconds.

He said he found the scholarship opportunity during his annual search for ways to pay for his education. “I usually do a random scholarship search to help me get the extra funding to pay off schooling,” he said.

Morris, a sophomore, said since the beginning of his training for the event, the school has been supportive of his efforts to learn how to throw a football with accuracy.

He’s been practicing with a model similar to the barrel that will be used at the competition. Morris said he can now throw 20 balls in 30 seconds, and out of 10 balls, eight of them will usually go in. “Each day I’m improving,” he said. “This is one thing I feel extremely confident in. Everything I participate in, I’m always second-guessing myself. I’m feeling pretty confident that I will win this, though.”

If he doesn’t win, however, Morris will have to continue searching for other scholarship opportunities to keep him in school. “It doesn’t make me nervous because I have faith, and I think everything will fall into place,” he said.

Morris has his family on his side. A native of Atlanta, Morris said his father, a former athletic coordinator, will be there this week to help get him through the last few days before the challenge. On Wednesday, a day before he takes off for his trip, students from the school will hold a farewell pep rally on campus to give Morris an extra show of support.

Here’s a video of Morris practicing for the big day: