“Mike isn’t even here tonight — he’s president of an a cappella group — he’s gotta audition people, he’s doing that and he can throw the ball 60 yards.”
Sometimes your quarterback has to miss practice because of injury. Sometimes there’s a midterm or academic issue.
And sometimes, he has a cappella practice.
Penn sprint football sometimes has to deal with the absence of QB1, because senior Mike McCurdy is busy fulfilling his role as president of Penny Loafers.
Most people would be content with just half of McCurdy’s resume: president of a campus a cappella group on top of being a three-year captain and reigning co-MVP of the Collegiate Sprint Football League.
“He’s just got every leadership quality you could ever ask for. ... It seems like he’s just somehow progressing even though he’s MVP of the league,” senior defensive back Chris Colavita said.
Last year, he led the Quakers to within a field goal of their first CSFL title since 2010. He threw for 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns, scoring another seven times on the ground. He’s just a game or two away from becoming the program’s all-time leading passer.
Yet somehow, that isn’t enough.
“Everyone on the team took [the loss to Army in 2015] hard, as they should,” McCurdy said. “We were close, but, for me, you have to look at it positively and know that we were that close. I believe we’re a better team this year. And if we can compete the way we did, I think the ceiling for this team is even higher.”
When he came to Penn, he wanted to find a way to keep playing football. He had been in contact with the varsity football coaches as a potential recruit, but things didn’t pan out.
He thought about walking on, but there were too many other quarterbacks ahead of him.
While McCurdy came in as an athlete, he certainly wasn’t a polished performer. After a year of organized singing in high school, he quickly abandoned his passion in favor of baseball and football.
Then, while he was in the process of pledging Phi Delta Theta, he learned a fellow pledge was in Penny Loafers, as was another brother. So McCurdy decided to give it a shot his sophomore year.
He made it in and soon after became president. McCurdy also quickly found that the two roles could actually complement each other.
“As busy as I am in season, everyone is just as busy with other clubs and other situations,” he explained. “Whenever we have a long three-hour rehearsal on Sundays or wherever we may be, and no one wants to be there, and you’re looking for energy, you need to be there and be ready to command that. I think being a quarterback in general has helped me be more comfortable in that role.”
In many ways, sprint football has been an unexpected blessing for McCurdy. Despite initially hoping to make what was then Al Bagnoli’s squad, he has been embraced with open arms by Penn coach Bill Wagner.
Sprint football allows for a special kind of balance not necessarily available with other varsity sports.
“They’re multitask kids, they do so many different things,” Wagner said. “They’re running the show right now — there aren’t even any coaches out there. They’re smart, they know the gameplan, they know what we want to see get done and they’ll do it. And Mike has been that leader on our offense.”
Now, in his final season, McCurdy has the chance to bring home the one missing piece to his career: the CSFL title. Everyone else in the conference knows about the Quakers’ best weapon and will have spent the preseason preparing to face him, but nonetheless McCurdy will be ready to go on Saturday once the season opener against Mansfield rolls around.
Or at least, he will be once he gets back from rehearsal.
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