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Friday, December 17, 2010

Feger making his mark on and off field

ALBION — For four seasons, Mark Feger poured his heart and soul into playing soccer at Albion College, turning into one of the hardest working — and best — players for the Britons.
Now that his playing days have come to an end, the 2007 Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port graduate is pursuing a career as an athletic trainer and/or physical therapist.
And Feger knows he’ll have to work even harder if he wants to succeed — and become one of the best — off the playing field.
“My (soccer) career was a great experience because it taught me the importance of working hard every single day in practice and in the games,” Feger said. “That hard work ethic is something I will be able to take with me into my future career and life.”
Feger got the chance of a lifetime this summer when he took on an athletic training internship with the Cleveland Browns.
“Through the relationships and connections I had been able to establish with my professors at Albion, they helped me get an internship with the Browns,” Feger said. “This internship was very similar to what I was used to as an athletic training student at Albion.”
Feger said as an athletic training major at Albion, he had worked with various sports teams and clinics to improve the hands-on skills he learned about in the classroom. 
“With the Browns, we were working one on one with the athletes, providing rehab and treatment,” he said. “We also were on the field at practice and the preseason games providing the taping, stretching and necessary treatment on the sidelines.”
Working at times 17 hours per day, Feger labored at a sprinter’s pace each session for four weeks.
“At first, I was intimidated just not knowing what to expect,” Feger explained. “I had very little knowledge of what my responsibilities would be before I arrived to their training facility. Upon arrival, we went over their expectations of us and what our daily responsibilities were going to be. 
“When I saw how much freedom the athletic training staff was going to grant us, I felt much more comfortable to work with the athletes and utilize the skills I have gained from my experience at Albion. I was very confident of my educational base because the professors at Albion have been very demanding and supportive at the same time to get the best out of every student they work with.”
After coming back to Albion in the fall, Feger went from taping and treating NFL players to being moved around on the soccer field for the Britons.
“I was asked to play multiple positions this year because our team was suffering from numerous injuries,” he said. “I finished the last half of the season as a center back, which was a huge switch from the offensive positions I have played in the past.”
Despite all the position tinkering, the senior led the Britons in scoring with seven goals, including a pair of game-winners. His 14 points ranked him ninth overall in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association in scoring.
The Britons struggled this season, finishing 6-14 overall.
“This season was the worst season I had at Albion, as far as the record and standings are concerned,” he said. “But I am very happy that I decided to play soccer in college.”
Feger was a first-team All-State performer for EPBP in the fall of 2006, when the Lakers advanced all the way to the regional finals where they lost to eventual state champion Richmond. 
After offers from several MIAA schools, Feger decided on Albion primarily for its academics.
“I felt very comfortable on my visit to Albion, and academically it was a very good fit for my future goals,” he said. “Albion had the best atmosphere within the team and the school was very well known for its high academic standards.”
After coming from a highly successful program at EPBP, Feger took some lumps early on at Albion.
“It was a completely new experience,” he said. “We were always expected to win in high school, and in college any team could win on any given day. 
“The biggest difference between high school soccer and college soccer is the speed of play. In high school, it was very common to see players dribble the ball the length of the field untouched and score. In college, you’re lucky to take three touches and not get knocked to the ground from behind. It’s very physical and required that the speed of play was increased to an extremely quick pace.”
Though his soccer career is over, Feger is excited about the future.
“I have applied to physical therapy graduate school, and I am also in contact with the Browns and may be applying for the year-long internship for the upcoming season,” he said. “At this point, I don’t know which path I would like to pursue more, but both are very viable options.”
Feger credits Albion for turning him into the person he is today.
“Albion has done more for me already than I would have expected,” Feger said. “The professors in the athletic training program at Albion are some of the best teachers, friends and people I have ever met. I have learned that it is equally as important to be the best student you can be in the classroom and a person with great integrity outside of the classroom. Every day of your education can be viewed as an extended interview for your future career.
“The people you meet and the relationships you developed can make all the difference in the world when being presented with an opportunity like this.”

Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port graduate and Albion College's Mark Feger helps tape Brandon McDonald during his internship with the Cleveland Browns this summer. McDonald now plays for the Lions.          Photo courtesy Albion College

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