Monday, August 13, 2012

Catching Up with Jeff Wiley '89

On August 30th, Jeff Wiley will be inducted as a member of the 3rd class of the Holy Cross Ring of Honor. Prior to kickoff that evening Jeff's name along with Pat McCarthy '63 and Ron Cahill '40 will be publicly and permanently displayed next to the other members of the Ring of Honor. 

Jeff very graciously recently responded to questions about his time atop Mt. St. James both on and off the field and the impact his college career had on his professional life.

I hope Jeff's memories will serve as inspiration for anybody currently on the fence regarding a return to Fitton on August 30th to witness the Ring of Honor induction prior to the Crusaders taking on the UNH Wildcats under the lights. 

Thank you Jeff for taking us down memory lane. 

1.   What attracted you to Holy Cross in the first place?
Coming from rural Celina, OH, I had little prior knowledge of Holy Cross, other than seeing the name on the old Prudential College Football Scoreboard Show.  I was familiar with the successes Rick Carter had at the University of Dayton and was continuing to have at Holy Cross.   Coaches Mark Duffner and Rick Carter recruited me late in the recruiting process.  Coach Carter traveled to my home town in rural Ohio in a blinding snowstorm to meet with me.  Their dedication and enthusiasm for Holy Cross was infectious.  My visit to Holy Cross impressed upon me the opportunities for academic and athletic excellence that Holy Cross offered.

2.   Most memorable moment in your Holy Cross Football career?
From the fall of '85 thru the fall of '88.  We experienced such an extreme range of emotions from the abyss of the tragic death of our head coach, to the pinnacle of an undefeated season and #1 national ranking, that it is impossible to pick a single most memorable moment.  Please permit me to relive some of the most memorable, and in some instances, life shaping moments of my Holy Cross experience. 

Tragically, one of the most memorable moments is from my freshman year.  On a cold, gray winter Sunday morning, the day of our season ending banquet, an unscheduled team meeting was announced. An emotional Coach Duffner relayed the news of Coach Carter's death to us. Ironically, this tragedy, and Coach Duffner's leadership, galvanized our team, and a bond developed that would last a lifetime. 

Success did not come early, or easily, for our '86 team as we lost to the alumni in the annual spring game!

Without a doubt, one of the most emotional victories was our 1986 17-14 win over Army, which had defeated Tennessee the week before, at historic Michie Stadium.  Our defense, piloted by Jerry McCabe, “broke the bone” and made a swarming 4th down stand with 20 seconds left to seal the victory.  Gordie Lockbaum garnered national recognition and became a Heisman trophy candidate playing virtually every play on offense and defense.  Bill Young kicked a 46 yard field goal which proved to be the difference.  The win ran our record to 6-0.  This ensured a winning season, which to many outsiders seemed so unlikely, given the turmoil we had experienced over the prior 8 months.   

In a rainstorm, Tom Kelleher rumbled over the tribe, ushering us to a 31-7 win over  William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA.  Steve Southard and the defense were stifling, securing the 1986 Lambert Cup for us and a 10-0 record. 

Fitton Field was standing room only for the last HC BC game. Spectators watched from the 290 overpass.  We jumped ahead 14-0 and Fitton was rocking. 

A 63-6 route of Lehigh in 1987 was a near perfect game.  They had no match for the receiving trio of Lee Hull, Wally Dembowski and Rick Lane.  The defense, lead by Andy Martin, Jim Kelly, and Rob McGovern  dominated, giving our offense unlimited opportunities.

ESPN televised a Thursday night 39-6 drubbing of Villanova, which capped an undefeated 1987 season and #1 1-AA national ranking.  The excitement and anticipation the afternoon leading up to the game was palpable.  Mark Stoy, Dennis Golden, Craig Clarkin, Big Jim Miller and Ron George commanded the line of scrimmage.  Tom Estep, Tom Smith, Mike Jednak and the defense manhandled their offense and created numerous turnovers. 

The 1988 last second victory over Princeton must be one of the most thrilling victories in Crusader history.  Princeton scored with seconds left to seemingly steal a win from us.  However, Darin Cromwell took the ensuing kickoff, and as he was being tackled, lateraled to an alert Tim Donovan who took it the distance for a game winning touchdown as time expired.  That play, and win, spurred us on to a 9-2 season.

Finally, we all recall our final game.  Julio Fernandez, Dave Murphy and Chris Maruca spearheaded the defense, while Mark Gallagher, and Joe Segretti lead the offense to a 52-30 career ending win over Northeastern.  A flood of emotions followed. 

A few humorous moments always make me smile.  Gerry Trietley, our stand out nose tackle, placed a snickers bar next to the ball for an opponent's center.   This  prompted a rise from the official, but no penalty!  The Harvard public address announcer took it upon himself to rename Julio Fernandez to “Jack” Fernandez upon every punt return. 

3. What would you like to share with your past teammates about your Holy Cross experience?
The friendship and camaraderie that we shared has provided me with a lifetime of unforgettable memories.  It is an honor and privilege to have known and played with each of you.  Your resiliency and ability to overcome adversity have been inspirational to me.  Ultimately, any success that I was able to achieve were a reflection of the abilities and talents of the teammates that surrounded me.

4.  What would you say to the current Holy Cross Football team?
Treasure the time that and experiences that are in your midst.  These years will be gone before you know it.  Prepare for greatness on and off the field, for success and luck come to those who are prepared.  Of course, believe in yourselves and your coaches.  Embrace all that Holy Cross offers academically and athletically.   Use your Holy Cross experiences and connections throughout life, and be an active member of the greater Holy Cross community over your lifetime.

5. What would you like to share with the Holy Cross administration about Holy Cross Football?
It is thrilling to see scholarships returning.  The unique opportunity for academic and athletic excellence is what attracted me to Holy Cross.  Successful athletic programs on and off the field will, in my opinion, serve to further alumni support and interest.  Let us be an example to other institutions of how academic and athletic excellence can be synergistic rather than incompatible! 

6. What are you doing currently and what impact did Holy Cross Football specifically and the college at large have in bringing you to your current place in life?
I am an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in total hip and knee replacement at Concord Orthopaedics, P.A. in Concord, NH.   My wife, Kathleen, and I have three wonderful children; Paul 14, Mary Anne 12 and Matthew 8.  We are blessed to be able to enjoy the opportunity to be involved in their many sports and activities. 

My academic and athletic Holy Cross experience provided me with unlimited opportunities upon graduation.  Dr Mike McGrath, my pre med advisor, encouraged me to study and pursue what interested me.  This lead to a variety of experiences prior to going to medical school.

Prior to going to medical school, I toured Italy, by playing football in Bologna, and then worked in pharmaceutical sales for 3 years for Parke Davis (now Pfizer).

I attended Dartmouth Medical School and did my orthopaedic surgery residency at Dartmouth as well.  This was followed by a fellowship in total joint replacement at Harvard and the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. 

Holy Cross continues to play a pivotal role in my professional and personal life 20+ years after graduation.  In our 24 person private orthopaedic practice in Concord, NH  four are Holy Cross graduates.  I am fortunate to practice with Stephen Fox '78, Doug Moran '76 and Sean O'Connor '78.  Other alumni live nearby.

Holy Cross football taught me many things, but the most important life lesson was how to deal with adversity.  We learned not just about encountering adversity, but what it takes to overcome adversity and turn a seemingly insurmountable situation into a motivating force for success in the future.

I am forever indebted to my coaches, teammates and the Holy Cross community in general.

Go Saders!


Thank you Jeff!! That was a fabulous walk down memory lane. 

In other news regarding members of the Ring of Honor, Bruce Kozerski '84 was recently named winner of the Paul Brown Excellence in Coaching Award. Congratulations to Bruce and all those on his team and staff for this fabulous distinction. 28 years after leaving Mt. St. James he continues to bring real pride and distinction to our Alma Mater. Nicely done. 

Speaking of pride and distinction, let's make sure we bring an overwhelming serving of both and a real home field advantage as well for our Crusaders by filling Fitton Field on the 30th. 

Get your friends, family, neighbors, classmates, and teammates on board and back to the Woo so we Fill Fitton Field!! 

Need a little more inspiration....


Please get on board and like the HCGLC on Facebook and/or connect to the many HC alumni supporting the cause on LinkedIn

LD '83

HCGLC Mission: committed to excellence in helping Holy Cross Football win on and off the field.  


1 comment:

  1. Jeff Wiley, you are an inspiration to the entire Holy Cross community...let alone the football program. I, like you, received the benefit of a football scholarship that truly changed my life. I also knew Holy Cross from the Prudential College Scoreboard on Saturdays, thinking it was a huge school. The combination of top flight academics with Division 1 AA sports is hard to beat...all in the Jesuit tradition. Here is to continued success to alma mater and, specifically, the storied football program.