College recruiters started reaching out to Mike Gecik late in the winter and haven’t stopped.
The Delaware Valley lineman had been preparing for track and field season and building his size and strength in preparation for football in the fall, where he hoped to really catch their attention.
Then, with access to the Delaware Valley weight room locked away because the school closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gecik needed to find a way to keep working out and building for his future.
His father, Mike, stepped in, and together they gathered materials at Home Depot and built a make-shift squat rack in the basement of the family’s home.
Gecik gained more than interest from coaches.
He started pulling in scholarship offers from programs that compete at the Football Championship Subdivision level. It’s all a result of the commitment made by the 6-foot-3, 270-pound, three-year offensive tackle for the Warriors.
“He’s a very athletic kid,” Delaware Valley coach Keith Olsommer said. “Sometimes you get bigger kids and they don’t move as well and Mike is just a really good athlete for a kid his size. He throws the discus and shot put and he works on the footwork part of those events and he’s always out on the track working on his speed.
“The thing that makes him a prospect is that he has the ability to play several different positions on the line.”
As a sophomore, Gecik broke into the lineup and played a role early for a Warriors group that eventually won the District 2 Class 6A championship.
Then last season, as a returning starter on a team with a veteran offensive line, he was a somewhat unheralded star as Delaware Valley repeated as district champion.
Both seasons, he battled through the bumps and bruises that are part of the job description as a tackle. Two years ago, he missed time with a concussion and last season played with a broken hand.
“I think the biggest thing for Mike between his sophomore and junior year was how mentally tough he became,” Olsommer said. “He was able to grind through some pain.”
Gecik took pride in being a part of the line.
The offensive line, coached by Al McElroy, helped pave the way for Josh Balcarcel, who ran for 1,503 yards, while averaging 10.4 yards per carry, and had 28 rushing touchdowns. The Warriors totaled 4,991 yards for an average of 383.9 yards per game.
“I came away from last year knowing that you always need to stick together and play as a team,” Gecik said. “Last year, coach Olsommer had this saying, ‘Sticks are strong in a bundle, while one stick by itself can break easily.’
“That stuck with me. I had a great experience because we were all like brothers. We worked really well up front.”
After the season, Gecik earned second-team all-star honors on the Lackawanna Football Conference Division I-II Coaches’ team.
That, along with the letters he started receiving from colleges, gave him added motivation.
“I realized that I need to be bigger and stronger,” Gecik said. “There was no way I would get opportunities to play in college if I didn’t work hard.”
So, he did.
Gecik gained close to 20 pounds and saw big gains in the weight room. However, when the spring sports season was shut down and the Warriors facility was closed off, he had to make due with the limited resources at his home.
That’s when he and his father constructed their own apparatus.
“Working out was a little rough in the beginning of the shut down,” Gecik, 17, said. “I only had one small weight machine, so I was working with what I had. When my dad built that squat rack, I started to use that and I have been doing much better.
“I appreciated what he did for me a lot and I am happy that he was able to do it for me.”
Gecik is reaping the rewards, as his squat is up to 420 pounds.
Even though coaches are restricted in what they can do in recruiting the soon-to-be seniors, his size, the impressive play they see on film and his potential has earned him offers from six programs: Bryant, Monmouth, Lafayette, Stony Brook, Marist and Albany.
“I was surprised that all of this is happening,” Gecik said. “But I am also very thankful for what I have. Now that we are getting closer to summer and possibly the start of football, I am getting really serious and I am putting in even more lifting and running.”
As his talent garners attention, Gecik remains focused on the ultimate goal if the football season proceeds as scheduled: Delaware Valley’s pursuit of another District 2 championship.
“All of this inspires me a lot,” Gecik said. “The main goal is to work well as a team and get another district championship. That’s the main thing.
“Everything else is just a result of working for that goal.”