He made his Mark-
and he left his Mark

July 5, 2011

On November 7th, 2003, Mark Angelocci Jr. warmed up on the sidelines, preparing for the biggest field goal attempt in the history of Novi football. It was the Regional Final. #1 ranked Adrian led #2 Novi 25-24, in the waning minutes. The winner would advance to the State Semi-Final game and a chance to go to the Silverdome.

In many ways, Angelocci was born for this moment. He was a young man that loved to compete. When the match was on the line, he wanted the ball. He was, as they say in common sports parlance... a gamer.

Angelocci finished his 'pre-shot' routine and jogged onto the field. It would be a 29-yard attempt. The game was broadcasted on two radio stations, covered by six newspapers, and was also featured on Don Shane's Channel 7 Friday night highlights. Meanwhile, there were also 8,000 people in attendance. It was an incredibly, highly charged atmosphere.

Mark Jr. was no stranger to big moments. He loved them. Seven-years earlier, we'd assembled a tournament/travel baseball team and in August 1996, we found ourselves in a tough quarterfinal game against Madison Hts. Trailing 4-3 in the top of the 6th inning, the 11-year old Angelocci was on-deck and about to take his turn at-bat with the bases-loaded when I approached him.

"Mark," I said, "I had a dream last night you singled up the middle and won the game for us!" He strode toward the plate and settled into the batters box. On the second pitch, sure enough, he hit a shot up the middle, driving in two runs and securing the victory for Novi. After the game, I jovially said to him, "See Mark, I told you you'd single up the middle!"

"What do you mean coach?" Mark replied. "That was a double!"

I'd forgotten! Mark had hit the ball with such authority, that in the heat of the excitement their centerfielder misplayed the ball and Mark hustled to second base!

As Mark Jr. lined up for the 29-yard field goal attempt that would secure the Novi Wildcats football team their biggest victory in school's history, there was no doubt in my mind he'd make it...I had a perfect view from the 40-yard line just north of the Novi bench positioned on the sideline.

The ball was snapped, and from the right hash mark, Angelocci coolly approached the holder and struck it perfectly, drawing it through the uprights right down the middle. There was never a doubt.

It would've been good from 47-yards.

Novi Wildcats 27, Adrian Maples 25! Regional Champions!

As the jubilant team surrounded their clutch kicker, there were smiles everywhere.

I knew he would make that kick, because as I observed his demeanor just before trotting onto the field, I sensed he was totally prepared for the moment. He expected it. He wanted it. He was going to make the most of it.

A wise man once said, “Never complain about getting older, many fine people are denied the privilege.”

Mark Angelocci Jr., regrettably, was one of them. Along with a close companion, Mark’s life was tragically and senselessly taken by the irresponsible actions of a drunk driver the other day.

I wish I had the magical words to lessen the unimaginable pain this event has caused his family and friends.

I don’t.

But I have a choice. I choose to remember the jovial scene and the impressive performance Mark Jr. produced when given his chance in front of an entire community on a Friday night in 2003.

When I close my eyes to relive that occasion, I feel better…even if, only for a moment. To that end, Mark Jr. created a memorable event that will live forever in the annals of the City of Novi, Novi HS, and the football Wildcats.

There is a lesson to be learned here…

All of us at some point get the chance to have an impact on the life of others. Will we be prepared? Will we embrace the moment?

Mark Jr. sure did.

That’s what I choose to remember.

God Bless…Mark Angelocci Jr.

(c) 2011 BernieFratto.com