Tuesday, October 30, 2001
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Once a week during the spring semester, senior defensive tackle Michael Venezia and other Muhlenberg football players spend an hour or two with underprivileged children at the Jackson Elementary School in downtown Allentown. The volunteer sessions are set up by Mule assistant coach Bob Kohler, the principal at the school.
Just the little time we spend with them is worth it to show them there are people who care, said Venezia. The kids look up to us like were NFL superstars. Its rewarding to see them go home with smiles on their faces.
Although Venezia tutors the youngsters primarily in math and English, he could also give them some life lessons.
Be persistent. Venezia saw very little action as a varsity player his first three years at Muhlenberg. There was a point last year where I thought about giving it up, but I just couldnt pull the string, he admitted. Ive been playing football since fourth grade and I couldnt let it end like that, sitting on the bench for three years and being a JV player.
Venezia worked harder in the offseason than he had before and came to camp with a better attitude. The attitude was tested early on, when Venezia, who had played linebacker and end his first three years, was asked to move inside.
Be a team player. I came in expecting to play defensive end, but we were short at defensive tackle, he said. Im not one to be particular. Whatever I had to do to get on the field, I was going to contribute to the teams success, even if it was as a special teams player.
Venezia has contributed on defense, recording nine tackles and a pass breakup so far. This year has been so rewarding, he said. Im glad I didnt quit last year because I would have missed out on a lot.
Never forget the importance of having fun. Venezia missed last years ECAC championship game against Wilkes because of a previous family commitment his grandparents 50th wedding anniversary celebration in Hawaii. To commemorate the event, Venezias friend, fellow senior defensive tackle Jon Buglione, presented him with a t-shirt that had V2K written on one side and Aloha, Coach D, a reference to Head Coach Mike Donnelly, on the other.
Venezia has worn the shirt to games this year. We all get a kick out of it, he said. I dont believe in being serious all the time. The more fun it is, the more you get out of it.
Serve others. Because of his love for kids, Venezia entered Muhlenberg with tentative plans to become a pediatrician. Although some early science classes forced a quick change of plans (hes now a business major), Venezia has still found a way to spend time with children through his volunteer work. If I cant help them in one way, maybe I can help them in another way.
MULE SOCCER PLAYERS SWEEP WEEKLY AWARDS
Junior Kim Laurino of the Muhlenberg womens soccer team and sophomore Evan Smallwood of the Muhlenberg mens soccer team were both honored as player of the week by the Centennial Conference.
Laurino was honored after leading the Mules to the CC championship with shutout efforts in both tournament games. She recorded six saves against Franklin & Marshall in a semifinals and nine against Johns Hopkins in the championship match.
The two shutouts gave Laurino school records for shutouts in a season (nine) and a career (21). She leads the CC in shutouts and ranks second with a 0.62 goals-against average.
Muhlenberg (18-2) has won 16 matches in a row and will host the Mid-Atlantic Regional of the NCAA Division III Tournament this weekend.
Smallwood, a midfielder, played a key role in both games as the Mule mens team won its final two regular-season contests to earn a berth in the CC Tournament.
He scored the go-ahead goal in Muhlenbergs 6-1 win against Franklin & Marshall, then assisted on the winning goal that capped a comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the Mules 3-2 defeat of Ursinus.
Smallwood is tied for the team lead with four assists on the season and also has two goals.
Muhlenberg will open play in the CC Tournament on Friday night at Johns Hopkins. The Mules, seeded third, take on second-seeded Western Maryland at 7:30. The winner of that match and the Gettysburg-Johns Hopkins match meet Saturday evening for the conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
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Last updated October 30, 2001