Mike Kurzydlowski named captain for senior football season at University of Chicago: Admittedly, Mike Kurzydlowski (Class of 2015) didn’t have high expectations when he came to the Maroons as a freshman. Much has changed since then. Entering his senior season, Kurzydlowski will be a team captain.
“I never thought about it, but it’s a tremendous honor,” he said.
After backing up his brother, Karol Kurzydlowski (Class of 2011), at kicker and punter in his first year, Mike (pictured above) started at both positions as a sophomore and junior. Last year, his 58 points were the most by a kicker in program history.
“I just wanted to contribute as much as possible on the field and enjoy the experience,” he said. “I believe that there is a time and place for a person to be a leader or a follower. I saw an opportunity to lead by example in the past couple of offseasons.”
One way he did that was by showing up to the weight room for morning workouts, which aren’t mandatory in the offseason for the Maroons. Soon, Kurzydlowski wasn’t the only one lifting weights at sunrise.
“I think a majority of my teammates took notice of my commitment,” he said. “I will continue to lead by example, especially for the younger guys. I hope they become motivated enough to surpass the accomplishments previous classes have achieved. I want to come back and see the program continuing to set the bar higher.”
In two seasons as the starting kicker, Kurzydlowski is 14-for-17 on field goals and 70-for-72 on extra points. As a punter — something he never did at Loyola — he averaged 35.0 yards last season with 15 punts of 59 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Sophomore year, he averaged 35.4 per punt with 13 of 52 inside the 20.
In addition to excelling on the field, Kurzydlowski has been a standout student at one of the top academic institutions in the country, earning University Athletic Association All-Academic honors the last two seasons.
“It’s definitely not for the faint of heart,” said Kurzydlowski, who’s from South Barrington and went to Prairie Middle School. “Coming from Loyola, I had a solid foundation of challenging myself in the classroom and in football.”
His brother, Karol Kurzdlowski, was a four-year kicker and punter for the Maroons and a three-time selection to the UAA All-Academic team.
Cal Falkenhayn helps downtrodden football program find success: Before senior linebacker Cal Falkenhayn (Loyola Class of 2015) arrived at Columbia University, the Lions had lost 21 consecutive games. They then lost the first three of his freshman season and ended up 2-8. Columbia went 3-7 the following year.
A two-year starter on defense for the Ramblers, Falkenhayn was accustomed to success. Loyola took second in Class 8A his junior season and won the Prep Bowl his senior year.
“It was a huge culture shock for me,” said Falkenhayn, a Glenview native and graduate of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. “At Loyola, everybody was plugged in, and we were a winning team every year. When I got here, Columbia was consistently at the bottom of the Ivy League.”
Last year, the Lions went 8-2 and finished second in the conference. It was their first winning season since 1996. Falkenhayn played in every game as a middle linebacker, recording four tackles for loss and one sack.
“That was so good,” he said. “It was everything I hoped it would be.”
Falkenhayn said the highlight was a 34-31 win in overtime at home over Penn that put the Lions 5-0, giving them best start in 22 seasons.
“We came into the game undefeated, and the stadium was sold out,” he said. “They’ve been one of our biggest rivals, and it was a great feeling to beat them.”
While Falkenhayn has played in 27 of 30 games in three seasons, he’s made one start. He said his goal is to become a full-time starter as a senior.
“I want this to be my breakout year, on and off the field,” he said. “I want to be a leader for the freshmen and sophomores and show them what it means to be a college football player.”
Falkenhayn’s brother, Ted Falkenhayn (Class of 2017), is on the track and field team at University of Chicago.
Photo credit: Patrick Gorski