Accent Stories

Austin Brenner


Class of 2021

Austin Brenner’s journey from a successful college football career to becoming a dedicated intervention specialist and coach is truly remarkable. It’s a testament to the profound impact of his faith and the relationships he formed at Ashland University.

Hailing from Akron and an alumnus of Copley High School, Brenner ’21 arrived at Ashland University fueled by a deep passion for football. However, his decision to attend went beyond his love for the game. The university’s esteemed education program, the tight-knit faith community–particularly the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA)–and its proximity to home collectively played a pivotal role in shaping his college journey.

During his time at Ashland, Brenner had an impressive football career, earning recognition for his athletic and academic achievements. But his success wasn’t limited to sports. He also embodied Ashland’s core values in the classroom and the community.

“The relationships I built at Ashland were crucial to my growth–as an athlete, a person, a teammate, and now as a teacher, coach and husband. Those connections define the Ashland experience,” says Brenner.

Brenner’s faith journey was deeply integrated into his time at Ashland through the FCA and Bible study. This became the foundation of his character. Participating in mission trips through the FCA allowed him to combine his athletic skills with his belief in service and evangelism. These experiences showed him the power of connecting and sharing life-altering moments with people from diverse backgrounds.

Brenner’s firsthand experience with the impact of faith on his life was significant. The sense of accountability and community he found at Ashland became his life’s playbook, guiding him through both challenges and victories. One of the most notable relationships that emerged from his college years was meeting his wife, Allison Brooks ‘20, on a mission trip. This further exemplifies how his personal growth and spiritual practice intertwined. Their shared commitment to faith and service embodies the unifying power of the Ashland experience.

Now, as a teacher in the Cincinnati public school system and football coach at a Christian high school, Brenner embodies the virtues he admired in his mentors. The influence of these individuals is not lost on him. They played a significant role in steering him towards a career in education.

“Joe Maggelet had a big influence on me,” Brenner says, “along with all my coaches at AU. I built relationships with the guys in the locker room that are as close now as they were then. That’s what Ashland is all about–those relationships that make you who you are, that define where God is leading you next.”

His faith and perseverance were tested throughout his educational journey, even as he led the Eagle football team as quarterback for four years. In 2021, a gruesome season-ending injury forced him to make the decision to battle back or leave football behind. He chose the former and less than a year later–working through months of pain and rehab–Brenner was back behind center building upon a legacy that is now written across the Eagle football record books.

“Working to get back after the injury was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Brenner says.” But God taught me a lot about myself–and Himself–during that experience. And my Ashland family supported me at every step.”

After graduating as a K-12 intervention specialist, Brenner embarked on his teaching career in Cincinnati. He brings the same leadership and perseverance he showed on the field into the classroom. As he begins to fill the role for others that his mentors did for him, Brenner imparts the wisdom he gained from his faith and relationships, encouraging young minds to pursue excellence in all aspects of life.

Brenner continues to be an exemplary ambassador of Ashland’s community spirit. The holistic education he promotes encompasses academic achievement, athletic dedication and spiritual growth–reflecting the essence of his alma mater’s values.

Brenner’s story, filled with accolades and personal milestones, remains rooted in the joy of teaching and coaching. By instilling the same values that shaped him–integrity, diligence and faith–Austin Brenner honors his legacy from Ashland University and sets an extraordinary example for the students and athletes whose lives he now impacts.

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