Athletes' good works get noticed
|T.J. Grzesikowski didn't make the AFCA Good Works
Team this year, which basically ignored Division III
Photo by Ryan Tipps, D3sports.com
T.J. Grzesikowski was surrounded by a group of underprivileged children in New York State, watching them work on arts and crafts projects. The 21-year-old punter from Ferrum was working as a mentor to these kids as part of the Homes for the Homeless program, even having the letters HFH stenciled on his shirt.
One by one around the room, the kids talked to each other about their backgrounds. A child mentioned that he had spent time in a homeless shelter. Another said he had, too. And others said likewise.
To these children, HFH stood for “Have Fun Here” camp. For them to know the reason they were selected wasn’t important. What was important was that they had the opportunity to leave the city for a few days, experience a rural setting and find camaraderie with other kids their age. For some, these 15-day sessions might be the longest stretch in which they get three meals a day or be able to sleep for eight hours a night. Some of the kids came with suitcases; others with little more than the shirts on their backs.
Some lacked even the essentials, like toothbrushes.
“I had never heard that, in the 21st century that kids don’t have toothbrushes,” Grzesikowski said.
Grzesikowski is one of about two dozen players from Division III who are nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, which was established to celebrate volunteerism and community service among collegiate athletes. A total of 112 student-athletes across all divisions were nominated for this year’s team, which was named this week.
“While glory and praise may be traditionally reserved for the most athletically skilled college football players on the field,” a Good Works Team news release reads, “it is the student-athletes committed to serving others who make the most impact off the field.”
The Good Works Teams are divided in two, one for Division I-FBS players and another for the combined Division I-FCS, II and III athletes. In addition to Grzesikowski, four others from the Mid-Atlantic -- Frostburg State’s Terryl Monroe, Methodist’s Tyler Mosko, Salisbury's Jamey McClendon, Ursinus’ Mike Rissmiller -- were nominated. Just one Division III player was named, low compared to the four or five that have generally been recognized by the AFCA in the past.
For college students, their first job is always to study. The lucky ones also get to play football or other sports. Even rarer are the students who make time for the community around them, especially when they aren’t native to their school’s region.
“I feel like playing college football, we’re extremely blessed. … And we should give back to people who haven’t had a chance to come to college or play sports,” said Mosko, who came to Methodist from southern Florida.
Mosko helps out with Special Olympics when it comes to his area, and he is part of the Adopt-A-Highway program. Mosko said that even in high school, he did charity work, such as helping out at his area’s local orphanage.
At Methodist, the 21-year-old is also an RA and helps to spearhead a program in which students donate clothes they don’t want. Mosko takes the items to a local homeless shelter.
|Tyler Mosko has worked with the Special Olympics,
in a local orphanage and with an area Adopt-a-Highway
Methodist athletics photo
Being an RA in the freshman dorms takes extra effort, too, and Mosko is there to help the newcomers adjust. “I really bond with them and help them through their freshman year,” said Mosko, a kicker who earned first-team All-Conference honors in the USA South last year
Grzesikowski is a decorated athlete on the field as well. He’s a former All-American who has twice been named to D3football.com’s All-Region teams. And the senior has been on the All-USA South team every season at Ferrum.
There, he has embraced a philosophy of good hearts and good minds.
“It’s just about doing stuff that sets you apart from everybody else,” Grzesikowski said. “As privileged as we are … [you should] help others who are less fortunate than you because you have life pretty well. Being able to come here continues that whole ‘not self but others’ mission.”
In addition to Homes for the Homeless, Grzesikowski, an education minor, is a past president of the Student Virginia Education Association, which has helped facilitate events involving Relay for Life and on-campus raffles. The punter has also been an RA for two years, something he said “takes a lot of your time, a lot of volunteering, a lot of off-duty stuff till 3 or 4 in the morning.”
The Seminole, Fla., native credits Ferrum for encouraging volunteerism and making opportunities available. But he also said he grew up with a family that nurtured a sense of community service, and he said he gained his first leadership role as early as the fifth grade.
His six weeks with the underprivileged children in New York had perhaps one of the biggest impacts on his life.
Being at the camp “really opened up my eyes to what the world could be,” Grzesikowski said. “I’m out here playing football at a private school, and a lot of kids don’t have the opportunity to do that stuff.”
Both Mosko and Grzesikowski were touched by their nominations to the Good Works Team. Mosko said he was “honored and kind of shocked” to be nominated.
Likewise, Grzesikowski knew the recognition was something special.
“It was amazing to be able to say that I stood out above [so many] applicants,” he said.
Late-game heroics help Wolverines
In the final 3:30, Wesley’s Justin Sottilare connected with wideout Leonard Stevenson for the go-ahead touchdown in the 21-17 win against the fellow highly ranked Delaware Valley. Wesley jumped out to a 14-point lead in the second quarter thanks to two big touchdown plays: a 51-yard run by Brandon Wright and a 58-yard pass to Ellis Krout. Despite fighting though several penalties and turnovers, the win should help Wesley secure its spot as the No. 3 team in Division III.
F&M gets the wagon
Franklin and Marshall bested rival Dickinson 35-26 and brought home the Conestoga Wagon for the first time since 2003. The Diplomats notched three of the game’s final four scores while trading the lead throughout much of the game. F&M was helped by John Kaschak’s 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns, which complemented quarterback John Harrison’s three end-zone strikes through the air. For Dickinson, two players, Andrew Fink and Julian Rosen, reached double digits in total tackles.
Builders’ defense steps up in win
Apprentice School in Newport News, Va., toppled a Division III opponent for the first time since October 2007. The Builders came away with a 9-7 win against Greensboro that was aided by three turnovers and 12 tackles for loss, three of which came in the form of sacks by linebacker Johnathan Jones. The Apprentice defense in all held Greensboro to minus-5 yards rushing on the day.
Scots give it all they got
Maryville needed three overtimes to get there but did log its first win of the season. The 20-17 victory came against LaGrange when Andrew Noboa hit a 33-yard field goal. The Scots’ freshman quarterback, Dustin Williams, threw two touchdown passes as team produced a relatively balanced rushing/passing offense. The win is especially significant ahead of conference play -- Maryville had been struggling in the wake of losing its starting signal-caller and was outscored 89-3 during its first two outings.
School records were broken at Salisbury in an 84-7 win over Husson. It was the largest margin of victory and the largest point total in school history. The Gulls had more than 700 yards of total offense.
McDaniel burst out to a 3-0 start, after beating Catholic 24-14 on Saturday. Credit turnovers by CUA -- four, to be exact -- as helping to give the Green Terror the edge.
Frostburg State got behind 242 passing yards and three touchdowns from Josh Volpe for a 33-31 victory against Christopher Newport. The Bobcats scored with just 13 seconds left in the game to notch their first win of the season while leaving CNU starting 0-3 for first time since the program debuted in 2001.
Hampden-Sydney’s 38-0 win at home against Sewanee came with a price: starting running back Kirk Rohle broke his leg and is out for the season.
Johns Hopkins scored 19 unanswered points and capitalized on two blocked punts for touchdowns in the 29-21 win over Gettysburg. JHU’s Hewitt Tomlin threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
I would be happy to hear from anyone who has questions or feedback regarding the Around the Mid-Atlantic column or Division III football in general. Please write to me at email@example.com. I’m sure that I missed some highlights in the region. I invite you to talk about players and performances on the message board’s Around the Mid-Atlantic thread. Additionally, if there is an idea you’d like to see me write about, post it there or email me.