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College sports

Injury forces Mazurek to hang up baseball cleats, dust off his golf clubs

Former Oceanside three-sport standout transfers from SNHU to play golf for Husson University
By Mark Haskell | Jan 24, 2018
Courtesy of: Nick Mazurek Nick Mazurek.

Bangor — It has been a roller-coaster ride — physically and emotionally — for two-time Courier Publications/VillageSoup schoolboy athlete of the year Nick Mazurek since he graduated from Oceanside High School in 2016.

The ride began for Mazurek when he stepped onto the college campus at Southern New Hampshire University in Hookset, N.H., where he was set to continue his storied baseball career as a pitcher for the Penmen.

Watch video below of Nick Mazurek in high school sports.

But, through a litany of circumstances, Mazurek’s trip took a detour — one that now has him enrolled at Husson University — as he eyes a role on the school’s golf team.

Of course, playing golf is something Mazurek is good at. Very good. In fact, he has back-to-back state individual titles on his resumé.

The 20-year-old Mazurek said during his freshman year at SNHU — three days before the baseball team was scheduled to travel to Myrtle Beach, Fla. for a preseason tournament — he came down with appendicitis and, ultimately, had an appendectomy, which put him on the shelf for about a month.

“No lifting [and] no throwing,” he said. “That really set me back for a while, so I ended up red-shirting my freshman year.”

When a college student-athlete red-shirts, it means he/she can stay with a sports program, but cannot compete, but does not lose a year of college eligibility, as long as the athlete/school declares that by a certain part of a season.

When Mazurek attempted to make a late-season comeback for the SNHU baseball squad, he began to feel “a lot of soreness [in his arm] that wasn’t there before and had to sit a few practices out of non-throwing.”

Mazurek, a standout baseball and basketball player, as well as golfer for the Mariners, rested for six weeks before he began playing summer baseball in a league in Old Orchard Beach and pitched 12 innings “pain free.”

He then returned to school and resumed a throwing program. However, after stepping onto the mound for his first bullpen session — on his second pitch, no less — he knew something was wrong.

“My arm just blew out right on the spot,” he said. “I knew it [my ulnar cruciate ligament] was torn right away. I have a good sense of my body because I’ve pitched for a long time, so I have a good sense of what my arm should feel like and what it shouldn’t feel like, so I knew something was really wrong.”

After seeing three different doctors, it was confirmed that Mazurek tore his UCL.

A UCL tear is an injury common with hard-throwing pitchers, and an injury that takes 12 months to come back from after surgery.

After weighing his options, Mazurek ultimately decided against the surgery — and against continuing his college baseball career. And his dream of a potential pro baseball career.

“It made more sense for me to just say this is the time the baseball cleats have to get hung up,” he said. “It happens to everyone. Mine just came a littler earlier than expected and hoped.”

Thus, Mazurek’s entire baseball career at SNHU consisted of one appearance in one preseason away game during his freshman season.

But, unlike many, Mazurek had options. And quickly turned a negative into a positive, trading in his cleats and dusting off his golf bag in an attempt to resurrect his college athletic career.

While he was dominant on the baseball diamond — he sported a microscopic 0.94 earned-run average on the mound and earned numerous accolades for his pitching efforts — his golf game was equally impressive, and perhaps even more so.

Mazurek won the state Class B individual schoolboy golf championship — his second in a row — as a senior, beating out an impressive field of golfers and firing a 2-over par 74 at Natanis Golf Club in Vassalboro. The year prior as a junior — when the Mariners were in the Class A ranks — he collected his first schoolboy crown, firing an even-par 72 on the same course.

While admittedly his first love, Mazurek said the initial decision to choose baseball over golf was not an easy choice.

“There was a time where I almost didn’t play [college] baseball in the first place,” he said. “So I always knew that was something I would want to do. And then when I started to understand, ‘Hey I’m not going to be able to pitch anymore,’ I thought, ‘OK I still have this.’ Golf never went away from me. It was always in the back of my mind.”

Mazurek was well aware of the prowess of Husson’s golf program due to the fact that he has friends on the team, including former Camden Hills golfer Daulton Wickenden and Maine Central Institute golfers Gavin and Eric Dugas, whom he knew from his days at Oceanside.

Husson won the New England Intercollegiate Golf Association (NEIGA) championship last fall in addition to securing their 12th North Atlantic Conference (NAC) championship in 14 years.

“I know they’re very, very good,” Mazurek said. “They played in six tournaments this past fall and won all six of them. And I like to win. I’m super competitive and this is a program where I feel like if I work hard enough and get to where I want to me, I can win with these guys.”

“I grew up playing golf with Nick at Rockland Golf Club and never really imagined we would be able to play on the same college golf team,” said Wickenden, a junior captain for the Eagles. “We were rivals in high school and competed primarily in baseball, because we were in different classes for golf. He’s an unbelievable athlete and a great competitor and any team is lucky to have him as a key contributor and leader.”

Husson University golf coach Michael Dugas said he is “extremely excited to have a player of his caliber join our program,” but said Mazurek “will certainly face some challenges as he joins our team.”

“This fall our top five players averaged 75 or better in competition all over New England and we won the New England Championship over all the D2 and D3 schools,” said Dugas. “Also learning to travel and game plan for new courses will take some time to adjust to. Having said that, I know Nick is up to whatever challenge I can send his way. I feel very fortunate to coach a player of Nick’s caliber.”

Mazurek said after talking to coach Dugas and with his being out of “the competitive golf scene for quite a while,” he will not participate in team activities until the fall and will begin to enter tournaments over the summer to, well, get back into the swing of things.

Another positive for Mazurek is that the majority of his sports management college credits from SNHU transferred, “so I really didn’t get behind [in school] at all.”

Above all else, Mazurek is a competitor. And while the feeling of disappointment is natural on how his Penmen baseball career was corralled, he now looks forward and relishes the opportunity to fly high with the Eagles.

“I’ve pretty much made peace with it,” he said of being forced to give up his baseball career. “Everyone’s playing days come to an end at some point.”

Nick Mazurek in high school
Nick Mazurek competes in high school. (Video by: Zack Miller)
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