March 7, 2014
WASHINGTON - Georgetown football's season-ending victory over Holy Cross on November 23, signaled the final time many of the team's 24 seniors would put on a football uniform. For punter/placekicker Matt MacZura (Cranberry Twp., Pa./Central Catholic), the invitation to play in the Senior Scout Bowl in Myrtle Beach, S.C. provided one final opportunity to represent the Hoyas on the field.
For some of the Division I FCS prospects that received invitations, the week-long combine that culminated in a North vs. South game was an opportunity to impress professional scouts from a variety of pro leagues. But MacZura has already accepted a position as an Associate Sales Representative for Oracle Corporation near Boston, the opportunity was much more about savoring what could be his final football opportunity and sharing it with his family and friends.
"Not all of my family was there for my last game against Holy Cross, so they all came down to Myrtle Beach for this," MacZura said. "My girlfriend was there, Charlie Dann, my roommate for the last four years was there and my family, especially my Mom and Dad were there. They have made a lot of sacrifices to watch me play and have actually made sure that at least one of them has been at every single one of my collegiate games, so really the best part was getting a chance to play one more game and have everyone there."
During his four-year career on the Hilltop, MacZura has etched his name into most of the football program's career punting and placekicking top-10 lists, stabilizing the team's punt unit from his first day on campus, finishing fifth in program history in yards per punt (36.4), while spending his final two seasons as the placekicker, where he had the fourth best field goal percentage in team history (.640). Though with the North roster, MacZura shared reps with several other kickers and punters, trying to pick the brains of his counterparts.
"It was a great experience," MacZura said. "The talent level in Myrtle Beach was tremendous. I was really honored just to be selected and be on the field with the other players. I also got to spend some time with family away from everything and meet guys that we played against from Brown and Marist and some guys from the south that you don't see during the season."
The atmosphere was far different from typical game week preparations at Georgetown, but MacZura noted that everyone's competitive edge eventually shined through.
"Our last walk-through was on the beach in Myrtle Beach, so we got to get out there in bare feet and our jersey," MacZura said. "Obviously it was much more relaxed, a much more light-hearted spirit than a Georgetown game, but at the same time we really wanted to win. There was definitely a little rivalry with the south thinking they were better than the north."
During the game, he found himself in a new role, serving as the holder on his team's first extra point, an experience he noted as being more nerve-racking than his actual placekicking duties. When it came to kicking MacZura was just fine, converting a 38-yard field goal to tie the score for the North early in the third quarter, though a last second field goal would lift the South squad over MacZura's North team.
Following the game, the feeling of finality for MacZura's football career began to sink in.
"It was tough," MacZura remembered. "I know at Holy Cross it didn't really hit me as much, because I knew I had this game coming up, but it hit me in Myrtle Beach. I didn't really want to leave the field. It was a great experience and I'm very thankful, but it was also kind of sad. It's even hit me more in the weeks that have gone by that this isn't something that you'll get to do again, but I'm very thankful to have gotten a chance to play one more."
As MacZura's final spring semester on campus continues to move closer its eventual end with his May graduation, he spends his time continuing to do the things he has done over his four years on the Hilltop. He continues to work as the head official for intramural sports at Yates Field House in addition to finishing his coursework as a Healthcare management and policy major and health promotion and disease prevention minor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. The one thing missing has been the early morning workouts in the Hoyas winter training program in preparation for spring ball, starting on March 19. While some may not miss dragging themselves out of bed for grueling early morning workouts, MacZura has already begun to feel sentimental for years past.
"Georgetown football was one of the best experiences of my life," MacZura said. "You don't have that connection to work toward something and to work for a common goal. I'm still working out now, but it's to get in shape. There just isn't that bond with the guys and that sacrifice that you're going for a common goal and that's something that I'm going to miss."
But as one chapter closes another begins, as MacZura. While MacZura begins his new job in early June, a few weeks after graduation, Georgetown football will never be far from his heart.
"I am definitely looking forward to coming back to some games next year," MacZura said. "I would like to come back for Homecoming and I was hoping the Harvard and Holy Cross games were away so they would be close, but I will still likely try and make it to at least one other besides homecoming."