Yooper roots run deep within Michigan Tech football program

NCAA

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – U.P. power will be on full display when the Michigan Tech Huskies take the field this season.

Over two dozen players on the Huskies roster have U.P. roots, with several of those players playing key roles for the team this season.

“You take a look at the history of Michigan Tech, when we’ve had our best football teams we’ve had really good U.P. talent,” said Michigan Tech Head Football Coach, Steve Olson. “So, keeping that in mind and trying to recruit U.P. players, you know, that’s a key thing for us.”

Olson says the development of players from their backyard is important to the team’s overall success.

“Sometimes it takes a little bit of time but having some ‘stick-to-it-tiveness,’ determination, and some toughness, it ends up showing up on the field for them some time down the line in their careers,” said Olson.

Former Sault Ste. Marie Blue Devil, Nate LaJoie, is a prime example of a player that embodies those characteristics. After not seeing the field early in his career, he’s become an all-american pass rusher and leader for the Huskies.

“Nate LaJoie is one of those stories of a guy that came in, you know, a little under-sized but came in and worked his tail off, got really strong in the weight room,” said Olson. “It took him a couple of years until he got a shot to even get on the field. So, his patience and persistence really paid off. That show’s up in his grit, his work ethic on the field, his pursuit of the ball, the things he brings on that standpoint on every play. That’s why he’s the type of player that he is. That’s why he’s a guy that could be the best defensive lineman in the league. It comes from that determination that obviously our U.P. guys have up here.”

“Coming from the U.P. it’s been a dream playing for Michigan Tech and support the U.P. and make a name for ourselves,” said LaJoie. “Being able to be out here and lead this team, lead a team that is well known in the G.L.I.A.C and coming from the U.P. has been a dream come true.”

Players who were once hated rivals, now have the opportunity to represent the U.P. on a bigger stage.

“You might be rivals in high school coming from Sault Ste. Marie and playing Marquette I have a ton of buddies now,” said LaJoie. “But yeah, In high school we were rivals and hated each other Friday nights but now we’re best buds on Saturday mornings and after the game, too.”

Although these players once stood on opposite sidelines, former Newberry standout, John Paramski, says there is an unspoken bond that resonates between U.P. athletes.

“As far as the U.P. guys, there is an unspoken bond for sure,” said Paramski. “You walk in and you all know of each other, you’ve seen their names in the paper and they’ve seen yours. So, there is mutual respect between everyone. That’s nice when you’re coming in as a freshman and you have those people that you can go up to and talk to. The older guys will all take you in under their wing and get you started. There is definitely a mutual understanding that those are your guys.”

Just another example of Yooper’s always sticking together.

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