Brister wraps up his career at Lindenwood, reflects on his years spent with the team


Photo by Jessica Spivey

Quarterback Cade Brister runs the ball down the field as the opposing defense chases after him.

Ethan Hannaford, Reporter

The Lindenwood football team just recently wrapped up its 2022 season with a senior day victory against the McKendree Bearcats. Lindenwood most notably said “goodbye” to four-year starting quarterback Cade Brister.

Football has been a huge part of Brister’s life just about as far back as he can remember.

“I used to go to my brother’s practices when I was five. I was technically the water boy that year,” Brister said. “My dad was the coach, so I’d hit dummies and that was my first football experience. I started actually playing that next fall.”

His love for the game was heavily based on his competitive nature and desire to win. Those were two things that were very popular in the Brister home.

“I think it’s something my dad has always taught me from that young age is ‘it’s only fun when you’re winning’ and I think that’s really where my competitive nature came from,” Brister said. “I love football and I do enjoy it, but I was taught at a young age, and I’m very happy that I was taught, that it’s only really fun when you’re winning.”

Brister won lots of football games at Fort Zumwalt North High School in O’Fallon, Missouri. He also was named the 2016 Missouri Player of the Year along with being a two-time first-team all-state selection. Brister also led the Panthers all the way to the 2016 5A Missouri state championship game where they lost to Vianney High School.

During his later years at Fort Zumwalt North, Brister began being recruited to play football at the next level. The most notable schools working to recruit him were Southeast Missouri State University, the University of South Dakota, and Lindenwood.

“Truthfully, I wasn’t too interested in Lindenwood that much,” Brister said. “I really wanted to get away from home, which is funny to say now because I never left. But Coach Baldwin was a huge part of that. He coached here before Coach Stugart got in. When Coach Stugart took the job, Coach Baldwin gave me a call and said, ‘Hey man. You need to come up, check us out, and just see that these coaches are legit.’ So, I came up, hung out with the coaches for a while, then really had a belief in them building a winning culture and really turning this thing around. I wanted to be a part of it, and I’ve been lucky to be a part of it.”

After committing to Lindenwood, Brister redshirted his freshman year which gave him some time to adjust to the speed of the game at the college level. According to Lindenwood Athletics, he was named the “Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year” as well as twice being named the “Scout Offensive Player of the Week”.

In 2018, Brister was named a captain, started at quarterback as a redshirt freshman, and did not disappoint, being named to the Honorable Mention All-MIAA.

The following season, Lindenwood moved to the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) and saw lots of success finishing with a 9-4 record. The Lions recorded arguably their biggest win in program history upsetting fifth-ranked Ouachita Baptist by a final of 41-38 in the first round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

Brister’s play matched the success that the Lions had on the field. He was named the “GLVC Offensive Player of the Year.” According to Lindenwood Athletics, he was ranked in the top ten in the country in four statistical categories. Brister was most notably named an Honorable Mention All-American by

After a canceled 2020 season due to the coronavirus, Brister returned to the field for his third year as the starting quarterback. The Lions captain was off to a very solid start to the season in 2021 but it took a turn for Brister in week seven against the University of Indianapolis.

In the third quarter of the game, Brister was taken down at the end of a play and shortly after realized that something was wrong with his leg. After a postgame evaluation and an emergency room visit, he was informed that he had a fibular fracture in his leg.

“I didn’t think too much of the future,” Brister said when asked if he questioned whether he would ever play football again. “I know that after surgery, people would ask me about it. I tore my ACL during my senior year of high school. I think coming back from that rehab motivated me even more going into this year. It gave me an extra boost to get ready for the year.”

After completing rehab, Brister was ready for the 2022 season, one that would bring new challenges. With Lindenwood moving to the NCAA Division I level and the Ohio Valley Conference, the competition was set to be more challenging than ever. That didn’t stop Brister from continuing to win.

The Lions finished the season with a 7-3 record including wins against Division I opponents Houston Baptist, Central Arkansas, Eastern Illinois, and Murray State. Brister was a four-time “OVC Offensive Player of the Week”. According to NCAA statistics, he finished fourth in the FCS in passing yards per game and third in total yards per game.

“I felt very confident about going out and playing this year,” Brister said. “I felt very confident about our guys. I honestly wasn’t surprised at all with the success.”

Lindenwood head coach Jed Stugart had nothing but positive things to say about his quarterback.

“Cade is special because he was one of our first recruits when I got the job here,” Stugart said. “He’s been with us for six years, with the red shirt and a COVID year. He’s been such a key figure in us coming, turning the program around, and getting it to where it is. He’s probably one of the best leaders I’ve ever coached. He’s just instinctual in his leadership. He’s probably one of the toughest competitors I’ve ever coached too. It goes way beyond the way he plays though. It’s off the field, how he leads in the offseason, and we saw that the moment he set foot on campus.”

Brister also made a point about how his Christian faith has grown during his time at Lindenwood, and how that influenced the way led his teammates.

“I think I’ve really matured and come closer to Christ in the last year more than I have for the prior 22 years,” Brister explained. “That door being opened for me and being taught who the Lord is and what it means to be a man, that’s been a huge benefit for me. I think the biggest thing that it’s really taught me is that servant leadership aspect and what it looks like to give up time and sacrifice for other people.”

According to Lindenwood Athletics, Brister finishes his playing career at Lindenwood holding sixteen single-season records and eight career records including passing touchdowns and passing yards. He will graduate in December and explore playing professional football.

However, he plans to join the coaching staff for the Lindenwood football team next season if he is not playing somewhere professionally.