|Levels of attainment
By Jeff Kurowski
A new perspective, born of tragedy, sets sights for four years of college athletic experience
|Paul Mallers ’11
Glue guy, role player, unsung ... all could apply to Paul Mallers ’11, guard/forward for the Green Knights. But his coach chooses a different description.
“Paul is as valuable as any player on our team,” says Coach Gary Grzesk, now in his fifth year at St. Norbert. “The casual observer probably doesn’t recognize the value he brings. We always say that role players who know their role and play to their strengths can be great players. Paul is a great player.”
Mallers broke into the Green Knight starting lineup for the final seven games of his freshman season and has been a key performer ever since. While his points per game are modest (a high of 6.3 as a sophomore), he has proven to be an efficient scorer by shooting over 50 percent from the field in three of his four collegiate seasons. Not bad for a player who almost bypassed college basketball.
Following a successful prep career at Dundee-Crown High School, located in Carpentersville, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, Mallers was planning on going to college, but wasn’t sure he wanted to play basketball at the next level. A near-death experience changed his outlook.
On St. Patrick’s Day of 2007, Mallers and his mother, Linda, were eating lunch at a Subway restaurant when a sport utility vehicle drove through the wall, sending customers flying. One person was killed and eight were injured, including Mallers, who suffered a broken hand, cuts and bruises. Linda suffered multiple fractures to her foot.
“I don’t take days for granted,” said Mallers. “Live every day to the fullest that you can. That guided me into making a decision to play a few more years. I thought that maybe the guy upstairs wants me to play a little more because I could have been severely injured and, fortunately, I wasn’t.”
Mallers’ contributions often don’t show up on the stat sheet of the Green Knight team (ranked 12th in the country at time of press).
“He is our defensive stopper and we feel comfortable having him guard the other team’s best perimeter scorer,” says Grzesk. “He looks forward to that challenge.”
“My teammates trust me in that role, which is great,” says Mallers. “Chris [Peterson ’11], John [Taylor ’11], David [Wipperfurth ’11] and Steve [Papke ’11] are scorers. For me, it’s playing defense and doing the other little things – helping on screens, rebounding, and not turning the ball over.”
Expectations for the Green Knights were high at the start of the season. The team, ranked in the top 10 in the pre- season polls, returned seven seniors. Grzesk has called on the veterans, including Mallers, to provide leadership.
“Paul is a great leader,” he says. “He’s not the most vocal leader, but always leads by example. He is an outstanding player and a great student.”
Mallers, a business administration major, said that he has focused not only on helping the team to win this season, but also on enjoying the journey. He is thankful for all that basketball has offered over the past four years. His favorite moments on the court include defeating then-number one UW-Platteville in 2008, and playing in last season’s NCAA tournament.
“You not only get to do what you love, playing sports in college, but you’re also meeting some of the best friends that you will have for the rest of your life,” he says. “The seven seniors are all pretty close. Years from now we will still be talking about the big games and the road trips. Enjoy the ride when you’re here and take it with you wherever you go.”