Penn football's Chaminade graduates flying together
Ex-Chaminade Flyers Giesecke, Nawrocki and van Roten carry high-school success to Penn
November 2, 2011, 10:41 pm·
Rachel Bleustein | DP
By now, the seniors on the Penn football team know each other like family. Playing football with the same group of guys for four years has a funny way of strengthening camaraderie.
For three Class of 2012 Quakers, the ties go back even further.
Seniors Brian Giesecke, Luke Nawrocki and Greg van Roten were teammates at Chaminade High School in Mineola, N.Y.
Giesecke was a year above van Roten and Nawrocki in high school, but suffered an injury at Penn that caused him to miss a year of football.
“I looked up to Brian,” Nawrocki said. “He was that senior. He always played his heart out, and I tried to be half the football player he was.”
It’s no surprise that when these current Quakers suited up for the Chaminade Flyers, their high school boasted a strong football team.
The Quakers’ opponent this week, Princeton, features another ’08 Chaminade graduate, defensive end Mike Catapano, who serves as one of the Tigers’ tri-captains.
During Giesecke’s senior year, the future-Quakers helped the Flyers to one of their most successful seasons in recent history, finishing the year ranked 13th in the state of New York.
It’s also proven to be a winning relationship at Penn. The numbers speak for themselves.
Since 2009, the first year all three saw varsity action, Penn’s record is 21-6 overall with two Ivy championships and a third within its grasp.
Nawrocki and van Roten have been playing together for eight years, and playing — and butting heads — with Giesecke for seven.
“Offensively and defensively, we definitely do [get tired of each other],” van Roten said. “Luke and I don’t get tired of each other. I’m sure Giesecke gets tired of us.”
Indeed, Giesecke admitted that lining up against van Roten and Nawrocki’s combined 545 pounds every day in practice can get old.
“Of course, there’s naturally a competition there,” the defensive lineman said. “We’re going up against each other all the time. It’s a lot of mind games, a lot of joking around, a lot of trying to mess with each other’s head. It’s been a lot of fun.”
For freshman-year roommates van Roten and Nawrocki especially, the years have strengthened the chemistry and trust on and off the field.
In both high school and college, the two have served as captains together during their senior seasons.
“It’s been fun to play with guys you’ve known for a long time,” van Roten said. “You get comfortable with them. That’s the biggest thing. Luke plays next to me. In plays that he’s in run blocking, I know what to expect with him after playing with him for eight years. We trust each other implicitly.”
If the teammates weren’t the best of friends in high school, they sure are now.
“We’re basically like brothers I feel like,” Giesecke said. “We’re all real close. We’ll have each others back in anything.”
Nawrocki, who now lives two doors down from Giesecke, agreed.
“We look at all of our teammates as brothers, but it’s a different relationship because we go so far back.”