Thursday, October 25, 2012

Senior football player is a leader on and off the field

Change can often be difficult for many people. Facing it head-on has never been a problem for Trevor Marrongelli. In fact, the senior football player has embraced the challenge this year. He is taking on more responsibility on the field, playing a leadership role at the center position, and off the field, starting his Master of Business Administration degree.

Marrongelli, the center from Austin, Tex., is in his third year as a starter for the University of Kansas Jayhawks. Marrongelli was originally recruited as a center, but when he arrived in Lawrence the team needed him elsewhere.

“They needed a right guard, so they moved me,” Marrongelli said. “(Jeremiah) Hatch was the center for three years and when he graduated, I moved back to center.”

In the business school, Marrongelli has a bachelor’s degree in finance and is currently working toward an MBA. He is also a graduate teaching assistant for Lisa Bergeron’s Survey of Finance course. Life for a student-athlete is a balancing act, always putting everything you can into sports and studies.

“I’m not sure how he balances everything,” said Bergeron. “He goes above and beyond in every aspect of his life.”

Marrongelli started the first four games of the 2010 season before suffering a season-ending leg injury. He started every game last year and is a starter again this year. Marrongelli admits that it’s challenging at times but he continues to excel on and off the field.

“You definitely have to have really good time management skills and prioritize things,” Marrongelli said, “especially with the tests and all the projects and papers in the MBA program.”

Marrongelli is handling the academics just fine. He has been named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team every year he has played and in the spring semester of 2012, he was named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. Marrongelli said what he’s learned on the football field has helped him in the classroom and will help him in his future career as well.

“It’s discipline, working toward a goal everyday and just grinding it out,” Marrongelli said. “It’s waking up early for football and staying up late to finish homework and learning to do most of the big homework on Sunday and Monday when we don’t have football.”

The business school has taught him a few things, too. Being professional in every situation and giving your best effort, he said, are two of the most important things he’s learned. Helping in Bergeron’s class has taught him quick problem solving skills that he uses at the center position.

“Sometimes I have to tell the right guard or the left guard what to do or direct the whole offensive line,” Marrongelli said. “It’s kind of the same thing as when students come in with questions. You have to think on your toes and help them with the problems they have.”

When someone understands the material, Marrongelli said, it’s rewarding to know that you helped them.

Including his redshirt year in 2008, Marrongelli has played under three head coaches while at KU: Mark Mangino in 2008 and 2009, Turner Gill in 2010 and 2011, and Charlie Weis this year. Each coach is different and Marrongelli said you have to prove yourself all over again for each new coach.

“It’s pretty much starting over fresh,” he said. “Just be consistent in your attitude and effort and the coaches will realize what kind of player you are. You usually go right back to the place you were.”

Marrongelli also commented on the other side of that, saying that you can recreate yourself for each new coach, which can be a good or bad thing. For him, it’s been a good thing. Proving yourself to a new coach is a bit like moving to a new city. Marrongelli is from Austin, Tex., a metro area with a population of more than 1.7 million. Coming to Lawrence, with a population of 111,000, was a big change. It can be difficult at first, he said.

“I felt like the pace of everything slowed down,” Marrongelli said. “The hardest thing was that I didn’t know anybody, but once I got my base down, I was pretty set.”

Bergeron said he rarely seems stressed, even with the pressure of school and football. And somehow, he finds time to relax.

“He takes my kids to Perkins sometimes, and they love it because he lets them get pancakes AND chicken fingers,” Bergeron said. “I love having Trevor as a hardworking GTA, but more than that, I enjoy having him as a friend and a role model for my two boys.”

It remains to be seen how Marrongelli will end his football career, but his career in business is just getting started.