Serving others a goal for soccer standout Bryan Ciesiulka
By Chris Jenkins
Photos courtesy of Marquette University Athletics
With Bryan Ciesiulka orchestrating a precise-passing, smooth-moving midfield, the Marquette men’s soccer team has made a surprising surge to national prominence this season.
But Ciesiulka didn’t come to Marquette just to play, and Golden Eagles coach Louis Bennett wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When your best player is also a guy that does some great community work, who’s also got the best grades? I mean, goodness me, that’s every college coach’s dream,” Bennett says.
Ciesiulka (pronounced Sha-SHULL-kah), a junior from Naperville, Ill., has been a playmaking catalyst during one of the most successful seasons in the program's history. At 16-3-1, Marquette was the No. 7 seed going into the NCAA men's soccer championship tournament.
Majoring in education and mathematics, Ciesiulka has a 3.8 grade point average.
And if playing a Division I sport without letting his academics slip isn’t impressive enough, Ciesiulka also is trying to raise $22,000 and sign up 500 volunteers to pack meals for malnourished children early next year.
Ciesiulka is organizing the Jan. 20 event in conjunction with a nonprofit, Feed My Starving Children. After Ciesiulka and his family volunteered for the organization near their home in suburban Chicago, he wanted to bring it to campus.
“I loved it because you can do so much good, and it’s really easy work,” Ciesiulka said. “We’re going to be sending 100,000 meals and we’re probably going to be working for four or five hours.”
Perhaps, but that’s only after months of planning.
Bennett beams about the self-driven commitment to community service that Ciesiulka and several of his teammates have shown, reflecting Marquette’s wider mission. Teammates Eric Pothast and Charlie Lyon recently joined Ciesiulka on a trip to Alabama to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
“Fortunately, it fits in with a lot of what the university wants to do,” Bennett says. “And isn’t it much better when it comes from the students? I’ll be honest with you, isn’t this what we’re supposed to be fostering? A guy of his own time, he’d rather be doing this than playing XBox?”
And while Bennett is proud of Ciesiulka’s well-rounded personality, he’s quick to remind people that the kid can play, too — perhaps professionally.
Although he’s typically the shortest player on the field at 5-foot-4, Ciesiulka already has a spot on the Chicago Fire’s developmental squad. Bennett expects him to make the jump to Major League Soccer after college.
For now, Ciesiulka is happy that people on campus are taking notice.
“It is nice,” Ciesiulka says. “We’re getting a lot more fans at the games, which we really appreciate. It’s definitely moving in the right direction.”