Like father, like son
Nov. 16, 2011
By Stuart Buchanan
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Most kids grow up wanting to be like one of their parents but rarely does it work out exactly like they dream.
As life goes on, Jake Gdowski continues to be more and more like his dad, who has had the biggest influence on his life.
Gdowski, a senior offensive lineman, grew up in Grand Island, Neb., surrounded by Cornhusker football. He was a short two-hour drive from Lincoln, home to the university in which most of his family had attended. His dad, Tom Gdowski, was a three-year football letterman for Nebraska in the early 1980s. His uncle, Pat Larsen, was a walk-on in the early 80s. His dad’s cousin, Gerry Gdowski, was the starting quarterback for the Cornhuskers in the late 80s. His cousin, Brian Schuster, was a fullback in the mid-90s. And most recently, his younger brother, Andy Gdowski, walked on at NU in 2010.
But Jake wasn’t given a chance to put on the red uniform. He graduated high school at the wrong time.
“It was during the Bill Callahan era and he didn’t recruit in-state,” Gdowski said. “I was a little bitter but now I couldn’t be happier to come out here.”
The Rams are fortunate to have a player like Gdowski. He has started 21 straight games, tied for the longest streak on the team.
His first career start came on Sept. 6, 2009. Shelley Smith, now with the Texans, had a sprained ankle so Head Coach Steve Fairchild called upon Gdowski. There was enough pressure knowing it was his first start, but on top of that, it was at in-state rival Colorado. He also received one of the best birthday gifts of his life, a 23-17 Rams win.
“That was my favorite memory at CSU,” Gdowski said. “We beat CU in Boulder, it was my first start and it was my 21st birthday.”
His whole family was in the stands of Folsom Field that evening, including his father, his mentor.
“It meant a lot to me to have my family in the stands,” Gdowski said. “It is something I’ll always remember.”
Since this game Gdowski’s parents, Tom and Becky, haven’t missed a game home or away.
“It’s like I’m not away from home because I always see them,” Gdowski said.
Guiding him toward football in fifth grade isn’t the only direction Gdowski’s father, Tom, has given him. Gdowski has sought guidance from his father with his academics and what to do when he graduates.
Gdowski, who owns a 3.357 grade-point average, will graduate in December with a degree in business administration and a minor in finance and real estate. If a future in football isn’t possible then he will pursue a job in banking, something with which his father is familiar.
Tom is the president and CEO of Equitable Banking and in total has 20 years in the banking business.
“Seeing him work and seeing him in the business of banking, it has inspired me to look into that industry,” Gdowski said. “That is if I don’t go down the real-estate path.”
Whatever path Gdowski chooses, he won’t have a tough time getting started. He got his first start on the football field with hard work and dedication. Gdowski will get a job with that same mentality.
Gdowski has the highest GPA among upper-class Rams starters, and in 2010 earned academic all-conference, an award for which he had to work.
“I just put a lot of time into studying and doing homework,” Gdowski said. “I just make sure I get everything done and I’m always going into the College of Business.”
It is apparent that his dad has had a huge influence on his life.
“We are a lot alike in terms of football,” Gdowski said. “He didn’t take school as seriously as I am. His seriousness came around later in life.”