Running legend Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile while primarily training during 30-minute lunch breaks while in medical school. While Holy Cross’s Jake Wieczorek isn’t undertaking quite such a herculean task, Bannister would admire the athletic and academic pursuits of the Crusaders’ receiver.
“Coach Gilmore talks about it all the time — managing your time properly. You have to use all the hours of the day,” said Wieczorek, who majors in both chemistry and economics and plans to attend medical school. “If you have a couple of hours during the day between classes, or right after you get out of dinner after practice, you have to use the time you have to get everything done.”
The receiver took an unusual path to his dual major, one reflective of his considerable academic talent. “I came into college as a biology major, and I took an econ class, and I loved it, so I decided to switch to economics,” he said. “With a pre-med concentration, I had to take a lot of chemistry classes. I really liked them as well and had enough class space, so I decided to add the chemistry major to economics.”
Wieczorek recently was named as a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Award Trophy, honoring the best senior scholar-athlete in the country.
Wieczorek’s relative size, speed, and precision route running seem ideally suited for a slot receiver. The Crusaders instead choose to deploy their swift receiver where there’s more open space.
“I’m not the tallest but I do play outside receiver. I’ve been working on my route running the past couple of years and this year especially have gotten a lot better at that and using my speed to my advantage as well,” said Wieczorek. Through seven games he’s hauled in 40 receptions for a team-leading 525 yards and five touchdowns.
Holy Cross is 3-4 after upsetting No. 15 Harvard 27-17 without QB Peter Pujals, who has been out with an ankle injury.
“The Patriot League is turning a new leaf — Colgate proved last year that we can compete nationally. It’s definitely becoming a stronger conference,” said Wieczorek. In 2015, the Raiders advanced to the FCS quarterfinals, dispatching the CAA’s UNH and James Madison in the process.
Wieczorek interned at Needham Massachusetts’ Beth Israel hospital in 2015 and again this summer and was able to gain first-hand insight into his future profession.
His specialty when he practices? “I’m really interested in surgery right now. Shadowing over the last couple of years with surgeons in the operating room has really been interesting to me. But you never know, it’s a long time away,” said Wieczorek.
Wieczorek plans to take his medical school entrance exams this upcoming spring. “Then I’ll have a gap year before I got to medical school. That’s my plan,” he said.
The Cumming, GA., native named several southeastern schools including Emory, North Carolina, and Duke as possible choices for continuing his education. Given his 2016 performance on the football field, that gap year may need to include time to consider offers from a decidedly different line of work.
Photo courtesy Mark Seliger / Holy Cross Athletics