Vol. LXI, No. 34
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
LEARNING CURVE: Pat Gallagher talked to a coach as he prepared to play in the 2005 Sunshine Football Classic all-star game. Gallagher, a former standout at the Hun School, is entering his junior season with the Princeton University football team. The 6'0, 255-pound defensive lineman is looking to make an impact for the Tigers as they defend their Ivy League title.
Pat Gallagher hardly ever came off the field during his career as a star offensive and defensive lineman for the Hun School football team.
Matriculating across town to the Princeton University football team in 2005, Gallagher has found himself in a supporting role during his first two falls with the Tigers, riding the bench as the program has shot to the top of the Ivy League.
This week, Gallagher will look to catch the eye of the Tiger coaching staff and earn more playing time as the team starts its preseason camp. "I just feel like I have done everything I can to prepare myself to play well," asserted Gallagher, a 6'0, 255-pound defensive lineman. "I want to show well and try to do my best. I'm up to 255 pounds but as I get bigger, I am getting faster."
It has been a rocky ride for Gallagher as he has gotten acclimated to Ivy League football. "It is difficult," acknowledged Gallagher, who also wrestled and played lacrosse at Hun. "You go from being a big deal in high school to just a freshman. Everyone goes through it. It's humbling but it lights your fire to work harder. Ivy League football is a real challenge. You are up to the wee hours working on your studies and then you get up at 5 in the morning to get in a workout. One of the best things is that everybody on the team is working with one goal."
Gallagher was proud to be part of a 2006 Princeton squad that accomplished most of its goals as it tied Yale for the Ivy League title, going 9-1 in the process. "It was just exciting being on campus," recalled Gallagher, who pointed to the bonfire celebration marking the Tiger football team's sweep of Harvard and Yale and the season-ending win over Dartmouth as major highlights of a memorable fall.
"The bonfire was great; it was a cool community event. I was introducing my mother to my professors. The Dartmouth game was exciting; that was a nice way to finish things."
For Gallagher, starting football at the college level posed a challenge as he learned the team's defensive scheme. "Mentally, it's a lot tougher; there is a lot more to remember," explained Gallagher."
"Hun was a good stepping stone. At Hun, we had three practices and were installing things on the field. In the Ivy League, there are rules on how many practices you can have. We start with one-a-days the first week before alternating one-a-days and two-a-days. We spend an hour before each practice looking at the film of the last one. You want to learn what each guy on defense is doing and that's a lot harder at Princeton."
Gallagher has found the program's annual 12-session spring practice to be a good learning experience. "It's pure football, there is a lot more scrimmaging," said Gallagher, referring to spring ball.
"There is more individual work. You get to develop and guys can make huge improvements. During the fall, the focus is on winning each week while in the spring the focus is on getting better."
The Tigers didn't waste any time after school focusing on getting ready for the preseason camp. "It started after exams ended," said Gallagher, who was working as an intern at his father's law firm in addition to training.
"We started running stadium stairs. In July, we started getting together five days a week at 6 a.m. before work to lift weights and run. Then we started to do agility workouts on the field in a program set up by our strength coach Jason Gallucci."
Gallagher and his colleagues on the defensive line have supplemented that work with extra weekly sessions. "We get together every Monday and Wednesday to work on stance, takeoffs, sliding blocks, and film work," said Gallagher, noting that the group included Aaron Carter, Matt Koch, Tom Methvin, and Peter Buchignani. "The guys are not just great players, they are great teammates."
There is great hunger among Gallagher and his teammates as they look to repeat as Ivy champs. "There is tremendous parity in the league, the eighth place team can beat the first place team," said Gallagher, noting that Princeton's only loss last season came to fourth-place Cornell.
"I have tremendous faith in my teammates that they have done everything they can do to prepare to put us in a position to win. A lot of guys have put in a lot of hours. There is nobody on our schedule that we can't beat if we play our game. We have to dig into the toughness we've developed over the off-season."
Gallagher has certainly put in plenty of time himself as he looks to develop into a contributor for the Tigers this fall.
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