College football’s signing day has become almost a season in and of itself. All too often, you hear about the cheating that goes on by schools who are in competition for tomorrow’s college stars. You also hear about athletes who think they are bigger than the process, holding schools hostage in order to make their big decision in the spotlight. Then, there is the story of Jace Malek and the University of Idaho.
Jace had already committed to play football at Idaho and was finishing up his senior season as a wrestler. The nagging injury that Jace thought was from his football season was becoming unbearable. His mother took him to a chiropractor. Then, he went to a physical therapist. Finally, he visited an orthopedic specialist. It was here where he heard the news. The pain in his hip was due to a tumor that was discovered by an MRI. It was cancer. Doctors followed up that news by telling Jace that his football days were most likely over.
One of Jace’s first calls upon hearing the news was to Idaho. Jace expressed to the Idaho coaches that he knew they had to do what they had to do and he understood that his scholarship would most likely go to somebody else. The response was incredibly refreshing and proves that Idaho “gets it.” Jace’s scholarship would be honored. Coach Paul Petrino made the decision in stride and indicated that Idaho doesn’t deserve any credit as it was simply the right thing to do.
In today’s sports world that is unfortunately dominated by an “all about me” mentality, it is nice to see an athlete who, despite having all the reason in the world to think of himself, is instead so ready to humbly give up something he truly cherishes because it would be in the best interest of a team that he has not yet even joined. Beyond that, Jace’s ability to turn to his foundation of faith and a positive attitude in taking on this new challenge is something that should serve as a model for all of us. To complete this story, Coach Petrino and the Idaho Vandals displayed a sense of commitment and integrity that should ensure all of their fans that this is a program of which all of their fans can truly be proud.
Thank you to both the Idaho Vandals and Jace Malek. You have provided a much-needed example of what it truly means to win with class on signing day. And, may God bless Jace in his fight against cancer – with his positivity and strong foundation based in faith, he simply cannot lose.