This is a wonderful story that appears today in the Philadelphia Inquirer about
former two-sport star Thomas Hajek, an Academic All-American who graduated with
a 3.79 grade-point average in Business Administration.
Sat, Jan. 24, 2004
Hockey paid his way, but he loved lacrosse
Lacrosse has come in second to hockey twice in Tom Hajek's life, but no longer.
The rookie Wings defenseman was born in Slovakia, but grew up in St. Catharines,
Ontario, where he started playing hockey when he was 3. He didn't start playing
lacrosse until he was 10.
Hajek, 25, went off to the University of Vermont on a hockey scholarship after
playing several seasons of junior hockey. After a year at Vermont, he decided
that he wanted to play lacrosse, too. He ended up playing both - four years of
hockey and three years of lacrosse.
Hockey may have paid Hajek's way through school, but lacrosse got him his first
job when the Wings selected him in the 2003 National Lacrosse League draft.
If he had wanted to play hockey professionally, he would have had to do it in a
lower-tier minor league. Besides, he said, he was "kind of burnt out" with
The National Lacrosse League is a part-time league whose players make an average
of $12,000 for a 16-game season, so Hajek, who graduated from Vermont in May
with a degree in finance and a 3.79 grade point average, is looking for a day
While he does that, he is living with four other Wings players in a house in
Bala Cynwyd and adjusting to his new gig.
He's done well enough on the turf that Wings head coach Adam Mueller cited him
as one of the bright spots in the team's 17-11 loss to the Rochester
Knighthawks last Saturday.
The professional game is a little different than the lacrosse Hajek played in
For one thing, it's played indoors, which really didn't require much of an
adjustment for Hajek, who grew up playing box lacrosse indoors in Canada.
For another thing, the players are allowed to fight, and Hajek, who is 5-foot-10
and weighs 185 pounds, has shown already that he won't be pushed around or
intimidated. "I've been in a little scuffle," he allowed.
As far as the fighting goes, he said, "I compare it a lot to hockey. I don't
enjoy it, but I understand it."
But Hajek is far from a hostile young fellow. He enjoys his sport and being with
people who play it for a part-time living. "It's a real nice, tight community,"
he said, of people who are "real passionate" about lacrosse.