Mike Foley is Greyhound football defensive stalwart . . .
By John Conceison
WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
(published Thursday, August 26, 2010)
WORCESTER — The burden of
deciding on a college is stressful enough. So Mike Foley possibly
could’ve done without all the phone calls three years ago
from his buddy just a few blocks away.
Foley, the Holden resident who starred on the Saint John’s offensive and defensive lines, had the choices down to two: “Assumption, which is 10 minutes away, and Oberlin, which is 10 hours away.”
“I’d call him every day and say, ‘Listen, Mike, you don’t want to go to Ohio — what’s in Ohio?’ ” said Keith Bates, a Wachusett Regional grad who starts at linebacker at Assumption.
Call it giving in, or maybe it was jumping at an opportunity, but Foley chose to stay near home to play for the Greyhounds, and couldn’t be happier that he did.
Assumption is coming off its first winning season since 1995, and Foley, a fourth-year starter at defensive tackle, has played a huge role. He was named to the all-Northeast-10 second team last year after the Hounds’ 6-4 campaign, and this fall is a second-year captain.
“It had my major (history), I liked the kids on the team, and my dad (former Saint John’s soccer coach Brian Foley) is an alumnus,” said Foley, who has roomed with Bates since arriving on Salisbury Street. “It just ended up being a perfect fit for me.”
For the fourth season, Foley is playing in front of Bates in Assumption’s multiple defensive sets, yet the two met as Little League teammates (“I played infield, and he played first base,” Bates said, “so he had to scoop all of my bad throws”) and were chums at Mount View Middle School before playing football against each other in high school.
“Keith’s a real fun, goofy kid to be around,” Foley said fondly, “yet he works so hard on and off the field. He was another factor on why I went to Assumption, the opportunity to be with one of your best friends.”
“Mike is one of our best leaders,” said coach Cory Bailey, who returned to the Greyhounds last year after spending a year working in the corporate world. “He has an incredible work ethic, and he has gotten bigger, faster and stronger.
Last season, Foley had 42 tackles, including 6-1/2 for losses and four sacks.
“He has always been a smart player,” Bailey added, “and has had that natural ability of getting off the ball.”
Bailey has been impressed with Foley’s progression. “We didn’t know what to expect of him when he came in — he wasn’t the most imposing kid,” the coach said of Foley, who now stands 6 feet and 270 pounds. “When he was a freshman, obviously he didn’t look as he does now. We didn’t know what he was going to be.
“It was his commitment to the weight room. That factored heavily in his improvement.”
And Foley knows he can make more strides.
“I know the plays now,” he said, “but there are the little things — the hand placement, the footwork, the other things I need to adjust to be the player I want to become.”
Foley, whose father has taught religion at Saint John’s the past 36 years, is leaning toward teaching history as a career while keeping active on the gridiron. The elder Foley also played baseball for the Greyhounds from 1970-73.
“I do want to become a coach,” he said. “I don’t want to get rid of the game yet. It’s still going to be a big part of my life.”