Last year Chris Wesolowski and Matt Oxie were sitting in their dorm room at Michigan State, having a conversation every ex-high school athlete has.
The Cardinal Mooney graduates were simply reminiscing about the glory days, wishing they could play just a few more football games and feel that adrenaline rush a few more times. Well, they thought of signing up for MSU’s club football team, but there was just one big problem.
“We were saying ‘We should join the club’ — but there wasn’t one,” Oxie said.
From there, the duo started creating the MSU club football team – talk about taking matters into their own hands. However, that’s a lot harder than it sounds.
They needed the support of four student board members and a faculty member. They needed to score a practice field and game field. They needed to register with the school and set up a bank account for the team. They needed to hire a coaching staff and round up enough players to field a team.
Then again, telling a bunch of former football players their playing days are about to be resurrected made filling the 60-man roster easy.
“When you tell a kid that you have an opportunity of playing football for them, they’re ecstatic – it was like Christmas for them,” Oxie said.
Now here’s the problem with Wesolowski, the team’s president, and Oxie, the vice president – they’re so busy they aren’t playing in the inaugural season. That hasn’t stopped the duo from appreciating what they’ve been able to build since last winter.
“Coming out and seeing the bonds these guys have formed and watching them play together (is the most satisfying part),” Wesolowski said. “We’re seeing 60 guys that didn’t know this would happen and thought their playing days were over … but now they can get a Division 1 education while playing good football.”
Oh, they’re playing good football alright. The Spartans are 3-0 and have jumped to No. 3 in the National Club Football Association rankings, proving themselves as one of the best teams in the nation in their first season.
The team that was assembled after just a few combines in the spring have given the team enough depth to succeed, but having seasoned head coach Al Manfroni in charge helps too.
“I’m proud of all the boys,” the coach with 35 years of experience said. “We only practice a couple days a week, but we make those practices count. They work hard and they’re dedicated, and these kids have come a long way and I think we will wind up doing pretty well.”
Maybe next year Oxie and Wesolowski will find time to actually play, but for now they are content working as the leaders and creators of this team.
“Matt and Chris have really been tremendous as far as working hard and putting everything together,” Manfroni said. “They’re not even on the team, and I have great respect for that they are getting great pride knowing they put this together.”