Lewis will play football at Amherst
Updated 11:23 pm, Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Greg Lewis almost lost his life in eighth grade. He was riding his bike when a car going 50 mph around a blind curb crashed into him.
Lewis, a member of the Staples football and boys lacrosse team this year, broke his ribs, punctured his lung, suffered brain damage and broke his ankle. He was rushed to Yale- New Haven hospital where they were able to save him.
His comeback is complete as Lewis will attend Amherst College this and plans to play football there with teammates Chester Pajolak and Tyler Jacobs. He says, "I am so pumped to play next year, it's a dream come true. With Chet and Tyler being there I already have two amazing teammates to work with."
Continuing to play and thriving on the gridiron means everything for him because Lewis always had a passion for football. He watched it on TV, attended high school games, and hung pictures of his favorite players up on his bedroom walls.
Lewis' parents always told him that when he reached high school he would be mature enough to play such a physical sport. But after his near fatal accident, they were hesitant to let him play.
But Lewis persisted. He argued that he had to go for the things he wanted in life, after catching a glimpse of how short it could be. After much persuasion, his parents agreed to it.
Realizing how important the sport was to Lewis, his dad asked him to set a goal for himself. He asked Lewis "what do you want by your senior year?"
Lewis took this question to heart and responded, "I want to be on the field playing in front of people. I want to make it to where I can start as a senior."
Walking on to the field as a freshman, Lewis recalls, "I had no idea what was going on. Every day was another challenge. It was a learning process."
With the help of his teammates, Lewis was able to learn the nuances of his position and the game quickly.
"When I cam to football, my teammates and I pushed each other," Lewis said. "Myself, Matt Yeager, Rob Gau, Julian Gendell, and Mike Niklas would stay after practice and lift for an extra 30-45 minutes. We would push each other to be the best each of us could be."
As a sophomore Lewis didn't get JV time and only played in sophomore games. During his junior year he was a JV starter and played on special teams for the varsity.
Determined to reach his goal, Lewis trained and practiced rigorously. This included lifting, running, conditioning drills, watching film, and practicing with the team to run plays.
Lewis' hard work paid off as he became the starting varsity inside linebacker his senior year and fulfilled the goal he had set as a freshman. His proudest moment of the season cam against Ridgefield.
In the first quarter, Ridgefield's 300-pound lineman Tommy Jordan fell on Lewis' foot and broke a few of his toes. He came off the field limping. But that wasn't the end of the game for him.
He pulled his laces as tight as he could and returned to the field for the second quarter. Shortly thereafter, Lewis dropped back into pass coverage, read the quarterback's pass and made his first varsity-level interception of his career.
Although he was just a few yards short of a touchdown Lewis describes the moment as "euphoric." He remembers thinking, "A short time ago, my parents weren't going to let me play. If I hadn't, I would never have experienced that moment where a huge crowd was screaming and cheering for me."
As Lewis reflects on his time on the team he realizes the life lessons Wreckers Coach Marce Petroccio's program has taught him.
"[Coach P] told us from the beginning that the program was driven to turn boys into men," Lewis says. "I came in freshman year as a naive, inexperienced kid. I left the program realizing how much work, effort, pride, and passion goes into accomplishing something great and that alone defines a man."
The lessons and morals Petroccio instilled in him translated into his school work as well. The program inspired Lewis to take more challenging classes and work harder.
Lewis has improved athletically and academically since his freshman year. At the football banquet, he was awarded most improved player. The coaches were proud that someone with no prior experience playing, worked hard enough to make himself into a varsity starter and a true contributor to the program and earned Second Team All-FCIAC honors.
In addition, Lewis was awarded the most improved student award by Staples Principal John Dodig during his junior year.
Lewis plans to major in economics and minor in music at Amherst and has aspirations of one day becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Before his athletic career at Staples ends, Lewis has one more season to experience glory, He will be playing lacrosse for his fourth year on the team as short stick defensive midfield.
He says the key to playing great defense is playing as a unit. "You need to know where the other defenders on your team are and communicate with them so you can cover for each other."
Last year, the lacrosse team lost to Fairfield Prep in the Class L semifinals after going undefeated in the regular season. After seeing last year's seniors devastation following the loss, Lewis says it inspired this years team to "get the ring."
Although he loves the game, Lewis will not be playing lacrosse at Amherst. "Playing football, and having a major and a minor will be very time consuming," he says. "It would be too big of a time commitment to play lacrosse as well. But I will miss it."