Athletes' good works get noticed

More news about: Ferrum | Methodist
T.J. Grzesikowski
T.J. Grzesikowski didn't make the AFCA Good Works Team this year, which basically ignored Division III altogether.
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 program.
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.

Blitz package
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.

Contact me
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 ryan.tipps@d3sports.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.

Andrew Lovell

Andrew Lovell is a writer based in Connecticut and a former online news editor for ESPN.com, as well as a former sports staff writer/editor for the New Britain Herald (Conn.). He has written feature stories for ESPN.com, currently contributes fantasy football content to RotoBaller.com, and has been a regular contributor to D3sports.com sites since 2007. Andrew has also written for a number of daily newspapers in New York, including the Poughkeepsie Journal, Ithaca Journal and Auburn Citizen. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2008 with B.A. in Sport Media and a minor in writing.

2012-2015 columnist: Adam Turer
2007-2011 columnist: Ryan Tipps
2003-2006: Pat Cummings
2000: Keith McMillan
1999: Pat Coleman

Previous Columns

November 14, 2017
A familiar destination, an unfamiliar path
Johns Hopkins is back in the playoffs, but did not arrive via the program's usual Centennial...
November 8, 2017
Eyes on the prize
Washington and Lee has overcome unexpected adversity this season. The Generals enter Week 11 as the...
November 1, 2017
River Hawks receiver ready to run again
Tommy Bluj's final season was derailed by an injury, but he's determined to come back and play...
October 25, 2017
A grand opening
Franklin and Marshall played its first game at the new Shadek Stadium and the Diplomats' new home...
October 18, 2017
Hawks enjoying the adventure
Huntingdon has not followed a typical formula for success, but the Hawks have weathered early ups...
October 11, 2017
Shenandoah surpassing expectations
Underrated in the ODAC's preseason poll, the Hornets are playing with a chip on their shoulders and...
October 4, 2017
Here come the Bears
Ursinus finds itself in the driver's seat of the Centennial Conference. Now, the Bears must learn...
September 27, 2017
Be a man
The Cougars came so close to getting over the hump in Year Three under Cleive Adams. In Year Four,...
September 20, 2017
The little picture is the big thing
Mike Clark has taken Bridgewater to Division III's biggest stage, but these days he is focused on...
September 13, 2017
Starting from scratch
In their first year in Division III and with a new head coach, the Tornados are experiencing growing...
September 7, 2017
Business as usual for Blue Jays
Despite trailing on the road, Johns Hopkins remained cool and collected. The Blue Jays' come-from-be...
November 15, 2016
A proper send-off
Randolph-Macon's senior class is special. It's not just what they've accomplished on the field,...
November 9, 2016
Deja Mules
Cannonball! Muhlenberg hopes to make a big enough splash against Moravian to earn one of the six...
November 1, 2016
Uncharted territory
Shenandoah is led by a record-setting running back who can do it all and a record-setting quarterbac...
 • More Division III football news releases

Other Columnists