By Sue Moore
“Football is a physical game. It’s the only place where hitting is legal,” said Dan Karn, a Vicksburg High School player from the 2010 football team that earned a playoff berth. Karn is now a reserve linebacker at Kalamazoo College along with his Vicksburg teammates from 2010, Aaron McGuire and BJ Cagney.
McGuire was the quarterback on the VHS team that went 6-3; Cagney was the center and Karn a linebacker. McGuire and Cagney are now senior starters on the Kalamazoo College football team that is having some troubles getting on track this season. The three have been playing together for eight years, beginning with Rocket teams, freshmen, junior varsity and varsity in Vicksburg, under the tutelage of Tom Marchese Vicksburg’s head coach for six seasons.
“These kids have stuck together [all these years],” said Marchese. “They come back, lift weights with the younger guys, and are just great kids to have had in the program. McGuire is coachable, selfless, with a team first [mentality]. He set the tone five years ago for Vicksburg and has succeeded at the next level. He gives his full effort. BJ has that farm kid strength and is no nonsense guy. They all have great character.”
That shows at the next level with Karn and Cagney listed as academic All Americans at K, and McGuire sporting a high scholastic average. McGuire and Cagney spent a semester in Spain as their study abroad, living with families in Madrid who didn’t speak any English. Karn stayed home to major in organic chemistry and plans to graduate a semester early, hopefully to land a job in the plastics industry involving large production.
Cagney says he is straight off the farm. That had its advantages because he could recruit his teammates to help bale hay in the summer, giving them good paying jobs and providing the guys lots of conditioning work while hard at it. He intends to graduate from K with a degree in business and marketing, with an emphasis on finance. An internship with Imperial Beverage last year gave him a good start, he said.
McGuire hopes his days of quarterbacking will take him to a job in real estate investments once he gets his degree in business and marketing next spring. Meanwhile, he is playing well as the starting quarterback but injured his knee during the Olivet game last week.
“Our coach, Jamie Zorbo, has an infectious personality,” McGuire said. “He wants to win, is intense, and personable.” Cagney made his first recruiting visit to Kalamazoo College and then to Hope and Albion, but nobody beat the feeling he had from the K coaches.
They each received academic aid, but there are no athletic scholarships at Division III schools, of which K is one. A new athletic facility has been built and opened officially during the four years these guys have been in school. It includes soccer, baseball and softball fields, training room, and an elaborate locker room facility to help with recruiting.
“I’ve always wanted to play football and I will miss it,” McGuire said, noting that it’s time to move on. “No more body aches and pains perhaps. It does hurt a little more than it used to. It’s the miles of training and playing that means it takes a few more days each week to recover. I find I’m still limping around until Wednesday, when I used to be just walking around.”
They all agreed they need to get out in the work force first and start making some money to pay back their student loans before deciding upon graduate school.