Discovering the football gridiron by way of the baseball diamond may not sound like a typical path, but for Orange Lutheran senior Michael Puskas, it was America’s pastime that led him to find his favorite sport.
“I started out playing baseball when I was younger,” says Puskas, “and one day at Little League, one of the Pop Warner coaches in the area came out and watched one of my games and said, ‘Hey, you might be pretty good at football. Would you like to try?’ So I went out for football and found out I’m pretty good at this. It’s fun. It’s fast. And that’s pretty much how I fell in love with the game.”
As a wide receiver for the Lancers, Puskas gets as much enjoyment out of, “making a defensive back look silly on a route,” as he does playing with teammates who are close like family.
“I just love the whole team aspect about it,” says the 18-year old. “With your teammates, you create a bond that can’t be broken. That’s really cool for me. It’s like having a second family almost.”
It is the family perspective of the sport that has kept Puskas going over the last 12 months as a hamstring injury has limited his playing time. Despite this setback and the mental challenges that accompany it, Puskas has kept his team first.
“Michael is a resilient teammate and player that prioritizes the team and exemplifies leadership by his actions,” says OLu head football coach, JP Presley. “Although [his injury] has been disappointing for him, he finds a way to fight back, to contribute and to add value to the team. He is a strong mentor and example for our younger players. He is a blessing to the Orange Lutheran football program.”
Puskas hopes to return to the football field during his senior season and is looking forward to representing the Lancers later this year in both basketball and lacrosse. College athletics are a goal of his, and he knows that faith, resiliency and a never-quit attitude are keys to meeting that goal.
“Faith has been a big part of it,” says Puskas. “Just knowing who I’m playing this game for and recognizing everything that God has done for me. Even though I’ve been hurt, and that’s obviously been tough, God has blessed me in so many ways, especially bringing me to this school and all the people he has put in my life. God’s got my back, and he’s got a nice big plan for me.”