Mike Gesicki, All-Star Athlete for a Generation
Sports fans love to argue about the all-time best when it comes to athletes and teams but it’s usually a debate that can’t be won when you are trying to make comparisons between those of different generations.
How can you compare a team from this era as opposed to one 25 or even 50 years ago and the same goes for the athletes themselves? With that said in my 35 years of covering high school sports in the shore area I think I can make a compelling case that Southern Regional’s Mike Gesicki can match-up with anyone from this era and ones well before him.
In 1999 the Asbury Park Press came out with their top 100 shore athletes of the millennium, a group headed up by US Olympian and later NFL player Frank Budd, who passed away recently. Among others in the top 10 were Sam Mills, Andrew Valmon, Phil Villipiano and Al Leiter. Most of them were better known for what they did after their high school days and while some played multiple sports they clearly established their greatness in one. This is why Gesicki stands out.
In an era when the three-sport athlete is a dying breed not only did the 18-year old from Manahawkin play three sports throughout his high school career he did so in a fashion that may not been seen for a long time. Consider that as a freshman he earned All Division honors in basketball and was a first team All-Shore Volleyball player.
As a sophomore he earned All Star team selections again in the two sports and that number grew as a junior when the football accolades began to pour in. By now you probably know that football is the sport that will dominate his future with the 6’6 Gesicki headed to Penn State where he will be used as a tight end or possibly a wide receiver.
But let me go back to stating my case for his greatness as a high school athlete.
How many others could have gone to college on Division 1 scholarships in three very different sports? Before choosing Penn State Gesicki had to decide what sport to play as he was actively recruited in all three by big-time programs. He leaves Southern as the leading basketball scorer in school history with 1,867 points and he led the Rams volleyball team to back-to-back state championships and just yesterday was named the state player of the year by the Star Ledger. He was also named the Atlantic City Press Male Athlete of the Year
A dominating high school career has ended but the best may yet to come for Mike Gesicki, Southern Regional High School Class of 2014 and one of the greatest athletes (if not the greatest) the Shore Conference has ever produced.