August 12, 2013

Summer Spotlight: Gary Acquah

By Carly Grimaudo
Special to GoHolyCross.com

With the 2013 football season approaching, the Crusaders are readying and working hard during their preseason camp. For players, this time of year is an incredible challenge with jam-packed days of football action, film sessions and weight room training, but senior captain Gary Acquah (Bronx, N.Y.) feels more prepared than ever and it's largely because of his highly demanding summer as and intern for "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," ESPN.

Acquah, who was recently named to the 2013 Preseason All-Patriot League first team defense and who earned 2012 second team All-Patriot League honors, is not only a hard worker on the field, but off the field as well. As an intern in the Diversity Inclusion and Wellness / Content Planning departments, he worked closely with Employee Resources groups within the Human Resources Department and helped find ways to create a more effective workforce, workplace and marketplace. Acquah's job included managing the Employee Resource group election for the succession plan and talent management of the leaders in the group. Utilizing his minor in Deaf Studies while working on the content planning side, gave Acquah an insight on what goes on with closed captioning and making sure all of ESPN's major networks are 100% captioned.

As if working a 9-5 with two hour-and-a-half commutes between Worcester and ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. wasn't enough, Acquah crunched his daily schedule to include time for workouts both before and after the workday. Waking up early to train, working a full day and then resuming workouts afterwards, from June 10 to Aug. 2 (the Friday before preseason camp began), left no time for the typically imagined low key summer. Through his constant hard work and dedication to both the football team and his future career, Acquah used the summer of 2013 to better himself as both a player and a person. 

Check out our recent conversation with Acquah on his summer experiences as an ESPN intern and a senior captain preparing for opening day and the 2013 football campaign.

GoHolyCross.com: What was a typical day like for you?

Gary Acquah: Spending this summer at Holy Cross with my teammates, a typical day for me would be waking up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready for either a team lift or run at 6:00 a.m. After our workout I would get ready to get on the road to work. I am on the campus of ESPN from 9-5 working at my desk, attending meetings, or finding different opportunities to connect with different individuals within the company. When I get home in the evening we spend time watching film or finishing up any workouts from the morning. Being together in the summer we are able to help each other out when it comes to cooking, when all our football responsibilities are done for the entire day we help each other make dinner and have a team BBQ once a week. After dinner it is time for bed.

GoHolyCross.com: How did you find a balance between work and working out?

Acquah: Being a student athlete at Holy Cross you get use to the routine of school work and working out, so with a job a good balance came from not putting things off until the last minute. I also found out real quickly that I would have to have the discipline this summer of getting to bed earlier than I would like if I was going to make this work.

GoHolyCross.com: Do you hope to pursue a career in the field of your internship?

Acquah: There are some areas of Human Resources that I am still interested in exploring, so I plan to work more in that area. In the Content Planning area, I still want to utilize my knowledge in Deaf studies and American Sign Language.

GoHolyCross.com: What was your favorite part about your internship?

Acquah: My favorite part about my internship was being able to work in a group setting to drive different projects we were responsible for. It was fun seeing or meeting the on air talent of ESPN, and the different famous people who come on campus, some being Kevin Hart, Kevin James and Bo Jackson. One thing that really stood out to me was meeting a deaf intern from the LA group and being able to sign with him when all the interns came together for a conference.

GoHolyCross.com: What did you find to be most difficult about your schedule?

Acquah: The most difficult thing about my schedule was the hour and half drive I had everyday to and from work. 

GoHolyCross.com: Do you feel that as a Captain and older brother of a teammate, your work ethic is important to set an example for the rest of the team?

Acquah: We all have a strong work ethic on this team. Receiving the honor of being voted a captain by my teammates and having a younger brother on this team means that I am being watched closely so I look to provide a spark in the times where we might be a little down, and plan to set a positive example on and off the field.

GoHolyCross.com: What is it like having your brother on the team?

Acquah: It is real fun having my brother on the team because we can help each other out in many different ways and also make each other better. We are very competitive about who is better at what and that keeps us working hard because we know the other will always critique you.

GoHolyCross.com: How is your mindset different going into your senior season compared to previous seasons?

Acquah: I am coming into this season knowing especially from last year that the game is not over till the last whistle blows. We experienced this last year the hard way in the close games that we lost and I believe that with a strong theme this year of finishing every single play, we will put ourselves in a great position to win many games.

GoHolyCross.com: What do you look to accomplish this season?

Acquah: This season, first and foremost we look to compete everyday and prepare hard to win a Patriot League Championship. I look to make sure at all times that we are doing the little things right to put ourselves in that situation. We want to go out as winners!

GoHolyCross.com: How can you apply your experiences with your summer internship to your football training?

Acquah: From my summer internship I can take away the experiences of meeting weekly deadlines by doing whatever it takes and apply it to what we do on the field. We have one week to prepare for every game. We have to remember that the other team is doing the exact same thing and the one who puts in the most time and effort into every aspect of the game will be the most successful on payday, which is winning on game day for us.