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Spotlight on Former Athlete: Steven Mocek - Football 1991-94
Year by Year at USL
1991 – 90 391 4.3 2
1992 – 63 214 3.4 2
1993 – 126 490 3.9 3
1994 – 172 686 4.0 3
Totals 451 1781 3.9 10
Mocek keeps the hometown dream alive
By Bruce Brown
Steve Mocek stayed close to home, and he's glad he did.
He also chose to play football, and wouldn't change that choice, although he admits it's not the safest quest in the world.
The Lafayette native was a star running back at St. Thomas More, a coveted speed back from a highly diversified offense, and recruiters came calling.
“I had been contacted by schools like Ole Miss, Tulane and others,” Mocek said of the 1991 option. “My dad said, 'Where do you want to live for the rest of your life? If you play locally, it can help you tremendously.' ”
Sage advice. Mocek elected to stay close to home with Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns and finished as one of the leading rushers in school history with 1,781 yards despite battling numerous injuries.
He rushed for 490 yards in 1993 when the Cajuns won the Big West Conference title and came back with 686 more as a senior in 1994 when they repeated as. champions.
Then, after a tryout with the Canadian Football League and three years living in Atlanta, he returned to south Louisiana to flourish in business and raise his family.
“To play college football, you have to push yourself to a different level,” Mocek said. “That carries over into the business world. I wouldn't let myself fail.”
Mocek runs Just Print It, a uniform, embroidery, T-shirt and promotional products company, and also owns a Balfour franchise that works with schools in Louiaiana. Both keep him involved with young people.
“If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plan,” he said. “I would have never thought I'd be doing what I am now, but this is where God has me and I am thankful and love what I do. Not only do I love what I do, but I love the people I get to work with.
“Many of my employees have been with me a long time and I consider family. I also have many loyal customers who I am grateful for and feel like family as well.”
First, though, he had to leave home to appreciate it.
“I had a tryout with Shreveport of the CFL, but I was kind of burned out by then,” Mocek said. “I was going through the motions and got cut. I had a chance to try out elsewhere, but I didn't want to keep chasing that dream. So I made a decision, and was comfortable with walking away.
“Then, everywhere I went in town, people just wanted to talk football. It was both a blessing and a curse (to have played). I moved to Atlanta for three years, and it was good to get away.
“And then I came back. There's nothing like home.”
He always had speed
Mocek moved naturally toward football and track over baseball and basketball, utilizing his quickness and working on his strength to stand out among friends.
“Sports is weird,” he said. “You're born with God-given ability and when you're young you get praised and you gravitate toward that positive energy. I was fast and could outrun older kids.”
Mocek and his friends excelled under the coaching of Leland Padgett on their eighth grade team at Fatima, then took that same karma with them to STM, where they found Padgett as their offensive coordinator.
“Coach Padgett was a great motivator and leader,” Mocek said. “There was something special about him. He made you believe you could do anything, and for me that carried over into college.
“Padgett worked on all our strengths. We worked hard, bought in to what he was saying and believed in him. (Head coach) Jim Hightower was a great leader who knew how to delegate, He had the right coach in the right place and empowered them.
“And, coach Mike Boyer was running backs coach and assistant principal. He took me under his wing my first year at STM. He looked after me a lot.”
By his senior year, Mocek was a focal point of the offense. His statistics weren't always eye-catching, but recruiters knew what he had.
“A lot of times, we would get up on teams and Coach would pull me out,” Mocek said. “A couple of games, I only played one quarter.”
Those STM squads went deep in the playoffs and the school has since won a state title.
“It all stems from what we started back then,” Mocek said. “Eventually, you're going to win a title. But, I don't like the split. Is it a true state champion? I would love to see all the schools play again. It's just not the same.
“Kids today are all over-praised. I wasn't raised that way. It's a different generation. Actions speak louder than words. I want to see a true state champion.”
The Cajuns come back to life
It was a rude awakening when Mocek arrived at UL as the Cajuns suffered a pair of two-win seasons in 1991 and 1992. But that changed when Teurlings Catholic product Jake Delhomme was inserted at quarterback midway through the 1993 opener.
The result was 8-3 and 6-5 records and a pair of Big West titles, and more production for Mocek.
“They pulled Jake out of his redshirt,” Mocek said, “and it was cool to see him so passionate about the game. And he played that way. He could stay calm but still have passion. He took control of the huddle and led us. We all felt it.
“He had energy, leadership and composure.”
But, with fewer postseason college bowl games than in the current structure, the Cajuns were left out of a bowl game in 1993.
“That was politics,” Mocek said. “At the time, we still had to break through.”
To no one's surprise, Mocek and his wife Callie were in the Superdome when UL won the New Orleans Bowl over San Diego State 32-30 after the 2011 season representing the Sun Belt Conference.
“When that field goal went through, we looked at each over and just started crying,” Mocek said. “It's great to see the success we're having, but we've got to start winning, fill the stands and help the budget.”
Water color picture
Mocek's own college years might have been more enjoyable if he had stayed healthy.
“I remember the first time I broke a long run, and I said 'Wow, this is great,' ” he said. “But I suffered with stingers in my neck. My hands and arms would go numb. That got better my junior and senior year as I got stronger.
“I had a lot of concussions but I continued to play. I remember one time I looked up in the stands, and it was like a water color painting. But I never took myself out. You do that, and someone's waiting to take your place.
“It is a stupid sport. A legal fight, really. You have to be crazy to play it. But once your adrenalin starts pumping, there's no high like it. There's really nothing that produces the same feeling.”
Mocek and Callie have five children. Youngest daughter Sere' qualified for the LHSAA State Track and Field meet in the 800-meter run as a freshman in 2019.
“I'm so proud of her,” Mocek said. “She's headstrong, and that's what it takes. It's going to hurt, no matter what, so you may as well run hard. She ran a 2:28 this year, and is already talking about taking 5 seconds off each year and running a 2:08 by her senior year.
“They all play, but I don't push sports on them. I'm more proud of what they do academically. I'm not one to throw it on my kids.”
Mocek, who is on the road for 40,000 miles per year, credits family (including parents and 5 older siblings) with his success.
“Callie's support and advice, and the joy of our children, give me the motivation and strength tiday,” he said.
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Steven pictured below was the leading ball-carrier of the Big West Conference Champions.
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Click here for the photo gallery of the 1993 football team. It includes a historic video of the season highlights.
Click here for the chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.
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