By Taylor Gull
Special to GoHolyCross.com
Senior Mike Fess (Caldwell, N.J.) has broken the all-time career record for receptions in Holy Cross football history. Fess entered Saturday's game against Fordham with 187 catches, set to break the record previously held by Jeff Laboranti, who had 190 catches from 1994-1997. After making seven receptions against Fordham, Fess now has 194 career catches, with two games left in the regular season.
Fess, to say the least, has had an illustrious career in his four years as a Crusader. After a successful career as a receiver in high school, he flourished in the position upon coming to Holy Cross. In regards to his most recent and celebrated accomplishment, becoming the all-time leading receiver, Fess said, "I think a lot of it has to do with learning and trying to get better. As my career went on I came in here not really knowing the ins and outs of playing receiver; in high school I played all over the place, but the coaches really helped me out in learning things [through] film work. And I think just a lot of hard work also; on the field and off the field and in the weight room…or being student of the game, that's something that really helped."
After experiencing immediate success his freshman year, he began to accomplish one goal after the next. As a freshman he caught nine passes for 106 yards. Throughout his sophomore year, he continued to excel and made 45 completed passes for 416 yards. In his third season, Fess caught 80 passes, which ranked him second-overall for passes caught in a single season in Holy Cross history. Despite these personal accomplishments, Fess again attributes his achievements to the support of his teammates and coaches. Each teammate relies on the next to critique and encourage each other in the pursuit of success. Fess explains, "I think in the receiving corps, we all critique each other and we all push each other to work harder; when we see someone doing something wrong we try to correct it." He often recalls coach Gilmore's encouragement to "never be complacent."
That constant encouragement has certainly paid off for Fess. He came from humble beginnings, where the biggest goal he set for himself was to "earn a starting position and earn playing time, and to work my way up the ladder." He certainly accomplished that goal. As a freshman Fess saw playing time in all 11 games, and continued that trend for the next three years.
Fess also recalled a few other personal feats and memories from his career at Holy Cross. "I still remember my first catch ever against UMass, that was my freshman year and the second game of the season. That's one of the biggest highlights. Beating Harvard sophomore year, that was a huge win for our program; that was my first 100 yard game." Fess articulated however, that his fondest memories are those of time spent with his teammates. "I think all of the time that I spend with my teammates in the locker room and out on the field, that's the biggest thing; all of the camaraderie that I have with those guys."
Recording 194 catches thus far in his career however, will undoubtedly be his biggest achievement. When asked about how it felt to be listed along with so many other notable Holy Cross players, he remained modest but proud of his performance. Similar to any other successful athlete, Fess did not come to Holy Cross with the mindset of breaking records. He took it day by day and solely focused on his and his teammates' improvement. "I had confidence in myself to play at this level, but I never thought about the records or anything like that". He explained however, that once the season is over, "…looking back, I'll be able to appreciate the career I've had here and all of the successes. A lot of great players have come through here and it's just nice to be up there with those guys."