Jacob Siwicki of Sagaponack, who in his high school career played for top football programs in suburban Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., before taking a postgraduate year at the Northfield Mount Hermon preparatory school in Gill, Mass., learned recently that he has been accepted at Dartmouth University, where he is expected to make an immediate impact.
Asked if his goal were still to play in the National Football League, the personable, 215-pound, 6-foot tailback said, “Absolutely — it’s been my goal ever since I was a kid.” Though, in case that isn’t to be, he’s going to major in business, he said.
Siwicki left East Hampton following his freshman high school year for greener football pastures, stopping first at Upper St. Clair, Pa., just outside Pittsburgh, before moving on in his senior year to storied DeMatha in Washington, D.C.
“You might get a crowd of 1,000 at homecoming in East Hampton, but at Upper St. Clair we played Friday nights before 5,000 on average, and there were 11,000 at DeMatha’s championship game with Our Lady of Good Counsel in D.C.”
“DeMatha [ranked sixth in the nation when he went there] has over the past 10 years sent an average of 15 football players a year to Division 1 schools. U.S.C. was still really good when I went there — Alex Park, who quarterbacked the team I was on at Upper St. Clair, is at Dartmouth now. He’s a sophomore.”
While at DeMatha, Siwicki was nominated as the D.C./Metro area’s player of the year, and was its player of the week twice; was the top-ranked running back in Maryland and led the Washington, D.C., Catholic Athletic League in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, and was his team’s most valuable offensive player. Moreover, he was cited as the most valuable player of the DeMatha-Our Lady of Good Counsel clash, a game in which 30 of the players on the field had received Division 1-A offers, and was picked for the Chesapeake Bowl, a regional all-star game in which the best players in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., competed.
During his junior year at Upper St. Clair, Siwicki, who led that team in all rushing categories and was named to the all-Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic League team, participated in the U.S. Army combine for the nation’s top 500 juniors, was a Football University top-10 running back and Top Gun Top 80, as well as a U.S. Army all-American Top Junior.
Now 20, Siwicki will enter Dartmouth as a freshman with four years of eligibility. He agreed that the extra year he’d spent in further preparing himself for an Ivy League education and in further honing his football skills had been worth it. The stopovers at the above-mentioned schools had been broadening, socially, athletically, and academically, he added.
Each year, he said, in reply to a question, he has gotten stronger and faster. “The shuttle [which measures agility and quickness] is my strong suit. I can do it in 3.94 seconds. Most high school running backs do it in 4.5.”
“My 40-yard dash,” he said, in answer to another question, “is 4.45. . . . That’s getting fast, certainly for a 6-foot running back who weighs 215.”
In each of his high school years he had played the tailback position, averaging, he thought, “about seven yards per carry at DeMatha, and, though they didn’t keep stats at Mount Hermon, about five or six per carry there.”
The prep school had gone winless the year before Siwicki came, and went 3-5 the year he was there, “though three of those losses were winnable. We could just as easily have been 6-2.”
Asked if he would describe himself as a power back, he said, “I’d say I’m a more of a balanced runner. I can be shifty too. I get off the mark fast — the first 10 yards is my strong suit.”
Prep school football — Northfield Mount Hermon played against such schools as Andover, Exeter, and Taft, which also had postgrads on their rosters — was “definitely not easy.”
Siwicki is also a pretty good receiver. “Most of my catches were coming out of the backfield.”
He found out last spring that he was also pretty good at lacrosse, a sport he hadn’t played since his eighth-grade year here. He’ll play only football at Dartmouth, however.
This writer sent him a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers: The Story of Success” on learning that he would spend a “pg” year at Northfield Mount Hermon. Practice, practice, practice is the book’s advice. Don’t rush it whatever the field, says Gladwell. On average, 10,000 hours of practice will do.
“It was good that you let the game come to you, as it were,” he was told.
“Definitely, I wouldn’t have done anything different,” Siwicki said in signing off. “Everything works out — I really believe that.”