Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Mrazek: 'a major character-building moment'

Matt Mrazek has thought about being a lawyer and a professional football player “my whole life”, and choosing which path to take after his final season at Lafayette “would have been a difficult decision no matter what,” he told me on the day on which he started his final semester at the college.

“This decision would have been more difficult had the season gone differently and had I put up numbers similar to my junior year,” the 6-4 wide receiver said.

He was on track to become Lafayette’s all-time leading pass receiver and at the same time help first-year head coach John Garrett turn around the program after it posted just three wins in 2015 2016 combined. He needed only 58 catches to pass Mark Ross for the top spot. It seemed like a no-brainer. Instead, he wound up with just 28.

“If a player has a complaint, he’s quick to be branded as selfish or something, but it was never about me,” Mrazek told me. “The whole point was I knew I could do more to help the team win. I thought we could have competed and won the league championship this year if I was used more. It was very frustrating.”

But even as the numbers on the field didn’t come – “this year was tough, without any sort of an explanation,” he said – “the more I researched (law) schools and the opportunities I would have, it just felt like the logical progression.”

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Matt Mrazek will close one door, open another

When I first learned that Matt Mrazek had been invited to participate in an NFL Pro Day at Northwestern University, I was thrilled for him.

If ever there was an opportunity for poetic justice to be administered, this was it.

After a 71-catch 2016 Lafayette football season, the 6-4 wide receiver from La Grange, Ill., who had been offered a chance to walk on with the Wildcats in 2014 but elected instead to accept a scholarship offer from Lafayette, was, through some mysterious circumstances that may never fully be explained, rendered almost invisible in the offense directed by first-year Coach John Garrett.

Twenty-eight catches, nine of them in the season opener and only 10 of them in six Patriot League games combined, were enough to put him into the No. 2 spot in career receptions at Lafayette.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The rest of the Joe & Marcia Hackman story

When Joe Hackman graduated from Eastern Mennonite University, he took a job as a teacher in a Christian school rather than going to work for his dad at Hackman’s Bible Book Store in Allentown.

“Dad never forced me to work at the store,” Joe said. “He knew the work is overwhelming. There are so many naysayers. Why don’t you do this or why don’t you do that, they say. So much criticism.”

Joe also got married, so he felt teaching might not adequately provide for him and his wife. He could no longer think only of himself. His wife Marcia’s father gave the newlyweds a piece of advice: “If you’re going to move, move now; don’t wait.” They took the counsel, and J. Walter Hackman welcomed him aboard with open arms.

“Dad immediately made me manager at age 24,” Joe said. “He wanted me to succeed. He was a tremendous encourager.”

So, did you fulfill a dream wish for your dad?