Jeff Hafley knows a little something about recruiting. The head coach of the Boston College Eagles spent the bulk of his early summer assembling one of the nation’s top classes by reasoning and balancing off-field intelligence against on-field production. He developed and enhanced a strategy familiar to BC’s community by finding the right athletes capable of lighting up the classroom and community as much as the gridiron.
That knowledge and ability placed BC atop the nation’s rankings for most major services, but even Hafley knew Thursday’s event at the Barber Family Auditorium gave him the team’s most prized and valued recruit when the Eagles signed 14-year old, Hingham, Massachusetts native Jack Giorgio to a letter of intent.
“We are grateful and fired up to meet our new guy,” Hafley said at the signing day ceremony. “(Jack) fits so well with Boston College. The mission here is ‘men and women for others,’ and I’m excited to work with (Jack and his family). We talk about how everything we do is for the team, and that’s how I feel about life. It’s how I feel about our team and how I feel about recruiting. It should all be about helping each other, and that’s what this is all about. We appreciate that.”
Jack’s addition instantly made him a prized addition to the Boston College roster after he was introduced to the Eagles through Team Impact, a nonprofit organization dedicated to pairing kids with chronic or serious illness with college sports teams across the country. The pairing helps the afflicted children find a larger community while battling a situation that can often cause a negative, isolating void. By fostering a support system, both the team and the individual are enabled to flourish and grow personally in a two-year program.
Over 2,000 children have been involved with Team Impact, and in the 10 years of the organization’s existence, more than 700 colleges and universities jumped on board. Boston College itself sponsored more than a dozen teams with football joining other programs such as both men’s and women’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s basketball.
“This is not a new thing for Boston College,” said Team Impact CEO Seth Rosenzweig. “Boston College over the years has already (a number of) children, including the football team, and we’re really excited to welcome Jack and his family to that roster of folks. College athletics are about the power of teams, and when everyone wins, the child wins, the family wins, and the team wins. That’s what it’s all about.”
Jack’s presence lit up the Yawkey Center room before the gathered media and team personnel, and the coaches and players present all joined in a signing day ceremony that included a letter of intent. Following the comments from Rosenzweig and Hafley, a video message from BC legend Mark Herzlich played and touched on the community of the university and the football program.
Herzlich was infamously diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, prior to his senior season in 2009. His story remained a constant force as he sat out that season before he publicly announced he was cancer-free on ESPN’s College GameDay program. He later returned to the field in 2010 and went onto an NFL career that included a Super Bowl championship with the New York Giants.
“When I was going through my battle, there was a plaque in the locker room in the old players’ lounge at Alumni Stadium,” Herzlich said to Jack via his message. “It talked about excellence, and it’s exactly what you have and what you are. Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than what others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is possible, and expecting more than what others think is practical.
“I am so excited to see what (this team) can do on the field,” he said, “and with your help, I can’t wait for you to sign those papers to be an official Boston College Eagle. I am right there with you, fighting, supporting. I’m so happy that you are joining me.”
His comments echoed the determination of the community currently battling cancer and preceded the signing ceremony itself. After signing, Hafley presented Jack with his own Boston College football jersey and formally placed the BC colors on his cap. The team then gathered around him for a photo while his parents looked on.
“We had been (talking) over Zoom and texting this whole time,” offensive lineman Zion Johnson said, “but it’s different really seeing a person in person. Even though we’ve been on Zoom, I feel like we got to know each other really well. We talk about TLC – tough, love, compete – and that’s what really epitomizes a BC man. We see that in (Jack).”
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