Huskies’ Jerzerick picked for East-West squad

LEWISTOWN – Leadership, determination, hard work and solid character are the qualities needed to be a success in any endeavor, whether on the playing field, the classroom or the boardroom.

For Mifflin County’s Curtis Jerzerick, these attributes have propelled him to high achievement on the football field and admittance into the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The accomplishments for the Husky senior are lengthy.

Jerzerick is senior class president and an Eagle Scout, Mid-Penn First Team all-star at tight end, honorable mention all Mid-Penn in basketball and a first-team District 6 Class AAAA all-star in basketball.

Add the East-West All-Star football game to his list of accomplishments.

Jerzerick is the first Mifflin County High School player selected to the game in the program’s brief three-year history. He will suit up for the West team Sunday at 2 p.m. at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville.

“I feel honored, but there are a lot of great athletes in Mifflin County. There are a lot of other guys on the team who could have been chosen,” Jerzerick said. “When I found out I was selected, I was ecstatic, but I thought there are other players on my team who could be in my same position also.

“I’ll be the first of many selected from Mifflin County for sure. We have some athletes working out in the weight room and some of the freshmen are looking to get some playing time next season. I’m looking for some of them to step it up.”

In evaluating himself, Jerzerick believes the reason he was selected to the East-West game is his quickness.

“My strengths at TE (are that) I am a lot quicker off the ball so my first steps are faster than most D-lineman,” he said. “Also, I’d say my footwork really created some of the holes that made my run blocking easier. I’m 185 pounds and to move 250-pound guys like I did was due to my footwork and then turning them instead of trying to knock them backward.”

The East-West game is the icing on the cake to a football career that brought plenty of accolades and great memories for Jerzerick.

“My most proud moment in my high school career was holding up the district championship trophy with my teammates. That was great. That was the best day of my life right there, with all my brothers out in the middle of the field holding that trophy up. It was amazing,” Jerzerick said. “Preparation was the key to my success more than anything else in high school and I think that will help me when I get to West Point. It’s the main thing at West Point. If you are not prepared going in, you will fail.”

Even though this will be his last high school game, Jerzerick is far from done with football. He will be taking his skills to play for the sprint team at Army.

Sprint football is considered a Division I sport at Army despite being a step down from the major college game. Sprint coach Mark West only recruits six athletes per year and Army has won the Sprint Football National Championship for two consecutive seasons. The Black Knights are in a league with Navy, Penn, Cornell, Princeton, Mansfield, CW Post, and Franklin and Pierce.

Jerzerick, who will major in environmental geography at West Point, is excited to get started.

“I want to a camp at Lafayette and a West Point sprint football coach was there. He immediately contacted me after camp,” Jerzerick said. “My junior year in April we went on a day visit and it just felt like home. I knew I wanted to be there and now, since I was accepted, not a day goes by when I don’t think about Army.

“Sprint football is a weight class football. It’s 172-pounds and under. Also, you have to be hydrated every week. You have varsity football and right below it is sprint football,” he explained. “Coach West wasn’t sure what side of the ball I’ll play on, but what stuck out to him was how I never gave up on a play. I think that comes from my Dad (Zane Jerzerick) right there telling me to never give up. I have to thank my dad for that more than anything.”

Basic training begins July 2 and runs for six weeks. After basic, Curtis will head to sprint football practice with the season running from September to November. He will attend West Point for four years, come out with a bachelor’s degree in science and be a commissioned officer.

To get into West Point is no small feat.

First, you must be nominated by either a congressman (a requirement) or one of the state’s two senators. Congressman Tom Marino nominated Jerzerick. Second, the acceptance rate at West Point is only 9 percent, with more than 15,000 kids applying each year. In addition, Curtis had to have the grades, leadership skills and physical attributes as well.

Choosing the military path was practically a given for Jerzerick, who follows in the formidable footsteps of his two older brothers.

Louis enlisted in the Air Force and is stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nev. Julian graduated from the Naval Academy in 2013 with a degree in computer engineering and is a second lieutenant in the Marines Corps stationed at Camp Pendelton in California.

Their influence on Curtis is profound.

“I would like to make a career in the military. I don’t see myself anywhere else,” Jerzerick said. “It just fits me. It’s home for me and seeing my brother (Louis) in his uniform and all the respect he gets. I would like to have that respect also.”

His success and appointment is no surprise to Mifflin County football coach George Miskinis.

“Curtis is an outstanding individual and a three-year starter. He’s always been very enthusiastic and he played with that enthusiasm and aggressiveness,” Miskinis said. “He’s developed into a real good leader. He holds everybody to the same standard he sets for himself. He is a great asset and will be missed.

“I think the East-West nomination is just the cherry on top of the sundae. Being selected is a great honor for him and his family. It’s great for our program that he’s the first one selected. He gets a chance to play among elite players in the state.

“Going to West Point is a 12 or 13 year accomplishment. It’s about being disciplined and being a workout fanatic like he is. He sustained that self-discipline to workout when others were taking it easy. It’s not just the physical its being mentally prepared. We’ve been blessed to have him. He’s going to be a great leader for our country.”

If, as Aristotle once said, you are what you repeatedly do, then achievement isn’t an action you take but a habit you forge into your life. You don’t have to seek out success. Harness the power of selected discipline to build the right habits, and extraordinary results will find you.

Curtis Jerzerick harnessed that discipline long ago, and success just keeps on finding him.