On Saturday, Oct. 12, the number one ranked football program in the nation, Clemson, took on ACC opponent Wake Forest in the first game of the season for both teams. Despite most NCAA teams postponing or cancelling the 2020 games because of the risks and dangers of COVID-19, the ACC decided to carry out its season.
Clemson defeated Wake Forest 37-13, and the game, regardless of score, carried some significance for Loyola. Former captain and two-year varsity starter Shayne Stroyke ‘20 got to suit up and take the field with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
When asked what was going through his head before the game, Stroyke answered, “Honestly I was thinking, Wow! I’m really a college athlete now.”
The Clemson Tigers are the number one ranked team in the country, which made them a challenging first opponent. Adding to the pressure, the game was televised nationally, racking up a viewership of nearly 3.5 million. Stroyke made it clear that his experience at Loyola helped him prepare for such a big game on such a big stage.
Stroyke said, “Loyola helped prepare me for the pressures of the next level because coaches Casani and Woodert run great programs. I’ve learned to perform under pressure through the CIF playoffs last year.”
There is a reason Stroyke, more affectionately known by Cubs as Shano, now has the opportunity to play at such a high level. He is highly regarded by all his teammates and was an extremely hard worker while he was at Loyola.
Senior teammate Aidan Lee said, “Shane was just a great presence in the locker room. If he wasn’t dominating on the field, he was making us laugh in the locker room. What was great about him is he always pushed us to be better.”
He was seen as a mentor to the younger players. Because of his positive attitude and success on the field, the younger players looked up to him.
Junior teammateAidan Alcala said, “Shane always was someone I looked up to. When you see someone play like he did and work as hard as he did, it’s hard to not want to mirror him.”
Stroyke had the opportunity to play against the number one team in the country in front of an audience of millions not because of luck but because of the hard work and success he had during his four years at Loyola.
Stroyke said, “It’s an experience I will never forget. It really made me look back and appreciate the time I dedicated to the sport.”