Thursday, April 6, 2017

Body and Mind

I probably should have heard about this sooner.

As a student athlete in both high school and college who is now the coach of a few dozen student athletes of a new generation, National Student Athlete Day is something I should have previously been familiar with.  On the other hand, it's just another one of those fake holidays that fill out the calendar and draw attention to otherwise niche causes, items, or events.  However, while I might be a touch biased, why shouldn't we celebrate the hard work that student athletes undergo in both the classroom and in the field.

That delicate balance between keeping up with your studies while simultaneously keeping on top of your athletic game is not something that should ever be taken lightly.  Heck, for "bigger" sports and programs, it's comparable to a full-time job.  For eight years, I did little more than study and run.  Of course, I was a touch socially awkward, but that's not important right now...

So, in honor of the student athlete and the great sacrifices they make for the betterment of their mind and body, here are a few cards of future Cubbies, back when they were still hazily shuffling between the classroom and the training room in college:

Jeff Samardzija
University of Notre Dame Fightin' Irish

 Michael Tucker
Longwood University Lancers

 Brooks Kieschnick
University of Texas at Austin Longhorns

 Brooks Raley
Texas A&M University Aggies

 Bob Howry
McNeese State University Cowboys

 Scott Maine
University of Miami Hurricanes

 Mike Olt
University of Connecticut Huskies

Kevin Orie
Indiana University Hoosiers

Matt Szczur
Villanova University Wildcats

Oh yea - if you didn't already know, spare outfielder Matt Szczur was a two-sport star during his days as a student athlete, making his balance all the more delicate.  In fact, when the Cubs drafted him in 2010, they had to offer the wide receiver a fairly significant signing bonus to keep him out of the NFL draft.  All in all, his tale is quite similar to the story of Jeff Samaradzija, at a somewhat lower profile.

Speaking of football, as a bonus, here are a handful of future Chicago Bears from their days as a collegians:

 Prince Amukamara
University of Nebraska Cornhuskers

 Rashaan Salaam
University of Colorado Boulder Buffaloes

 Hroniss Grasu
University of Oregon Ducks


 Daniel Braverman
Western Michigan University Broncos

 Leonard Floyd
University of Georgia Bulldogs

Jordan Howard
Indiana University Hoosiers

Whether or not top-tier NCAA football players actually fulfill the "student" portion of the student athlete  moniker is up for some debate, but let's not get into that here.

Lastly, here's the only hockey card that I have the depicts the college days of a future Chicago Blackhawk.  I suppose it would be appropriate to tack this on to this particular post, as well:

Kip Miller
Michigan State University Spartans

Kip Miller might have been a journeyman in the pros, who only played in 10 games with the Blackhawks during the 1995-96 season, but he was a beast in college.  Mr. Miller won the Hobey Baker Award in 1990, which is given annually to the top NCAA men's ice hockey player.

If I had any scanned, this is where I would include some Animal House-era Chicago Bulls, for the sake of covering all of my main collections; however, I have none in the queue nor do I have access to that binder right now.  Oh well.

There you have it - a hefty sampling of student athletes who went on to be professional athletes that blew through the Windy City, all in honor of National Student Athlete Day.  It may be a "fake" holiday, but if you coach any, know any, or are related to any, today would be a good day to recognize the hard they put into keeping their grades high and their physical fitness up.  Like I mentioned earlier, it's a delicate balance that takes great responsibility, hard work, and mental fortitude to maintain.

Today, my student athletes will be celebrating by running practice before hustling off to the Science Fair immediately thereafter.  See what I mean?


  1. You aren't kidding. After playing a game on the road yesterday, we returned back to campus where I had to grind out a four page paper and prep for two tests today. Oh, and we had to be up at 6 AM to pull the tarp off of our field this morning. The life in the NAIA - HA! I think that it may be becoming even more difficult for student athletes these days, especially in high school. With the world changing more for them to be individuals and stand out and take a role in society, sometimes things can add up to be a lot of pressure. Hats off to your student-athletes!

    Side note - love the collegiate baseball cards. College football cards are seen multiple times a year, but I always like seeing baseball prospects in their college or even high school uniforms!

    1. I too competed in the NAIA, but I was a runner. What school do you attend?

    2. I'm a senior at Hannibal-LaGrange University, although I attended Ashford University in Clinton, IA before it closed down

  2. The Szczur card is so cool. Love that 91 UD design.

    I truly admire the student-athlete who really gives it their all in both the classroom and the gym/field/etc. Yes there are some in the "major" sports who have cupcake classes and/or leave school after a year, but the ones you've mentioned - the runners and rowers and field hockey players and so on - they're not getting special treatment. They're busting their butts round the clock, and often graduating with an impressive GPA and a degree in something substantial. I think they deserve to be recognized (and the coaches do, too!)

  3. Schwarber had a few cards in his Indiana uniform in that National Treasures Collegiate set. I picked up a few Gerrit Cole's featuring him in his UCLA duds.

  4. Love the Shark card. BMOC. I notice that Szczur was also a captain.

  5. This post reminded me that I have a few Tim Stoddard cards set aside for you. I will drop them in the mail this week.