Something Moore -- Catching Up with Mike Gruner
Feb. 8, 2011
Senior leadership was crucial in our run to the Patriot League championship game last season. Each senior contributed in his own unique way to a season that saw us come up just one game short of the NCAA tournament. Now Jeff Kari, Marek Koltun, and Michael Gruner have graduated and left to take on the challenges of the real world. During the long days of interim I took some time to catch up with each of them. This final blog will feature lock down defender Mike Gruner from Bethesda, Maryland.
I always hated going against Mike on the court. Mike was one of those players who rarely let his guard down, even in practices. In the beginning of my freshman year, Mike helped make it clear that the transition from high school to college was not going to be easy. With maybe the quickest hands of anyone I have ever played against, Mike let nothing by and, if you ask me, really should have been voted as the league's top defender last year. Mike was one of the best teammates I have ever played with. His gritty play and unselfish attitude were the reasons for his immensely successful career at Lafayette.
Off the court, Mike always liked to be the one who decided who was one of the "guys". On our team, it is common for older players to make the younger players earn their stripes in order to become a true member of the team or "one of the guys". Being an upperclassman both years I was in school with him, Mike took it upon himself to keep the younger players in line, usually telling us to "stop trying to be one of the guys" if we were getting too confident or did anything to upset him. Other than being the "guy" authority, Mike enjoyed taking his shirt off in the weight room, playing pranks on the freshmen, and being "emotional".
After graduation, Mike signed a contract to play professionally in Poland in their top league. According to Mike, the style of play and lifestyle was vastly different than anything he had experienced. Living in a small town of only 50,000, most games were sold out with fans chanting and waving flags, making every game "intense" as Mike described. One of the strangest moments he had playing overseas was when he finally learned that whistling was equivalent to booing. Unfortunately, an Achilles injury followed by a bad ankle ended his time in Poland and, later, his chances of playing in Israel.
Today, Mike can be found anywhere from his home in Maryland to here in Easton doing play by play with Lafayette Sports Network's own Gary Laubach and John Leone. While technically being jobless like thousands of recent college graduates, don't feel too bad for him. At Lafayette, Mike constantly flirted with a 4.0 GPA and, having tested out of multiple requirements in high school, seemingly never going to class near the end of his career. Mike spent most of his final semester writing an impressive senior thesis, the topic of which I am still trying to understand. So while Mike may currently be "on the job hunt", I am more than confident that he will find a solid job and be successful in his field. Whether he will fit in there as one of the "guys" is yet to be determined.