Every once in a while I stumble on to something that really matters to people. After I posted about Eddie Wojecki the other day, my in-box quickly filled with stories of his skill and compassion. More than a dozen people wrote to tell me how he had cared for them with grace and respect. So I went back and looked for what else I could find of him in the archives. There’s a reasonable amount, but I chose these two pieces from the Thresher, the first from soon after his arrival and the second from just after his departure. From beginning to end, it’s all of a piece. A good man, still remembered almost fifty years later for his kindness and decency. We should all be so lucky.
Bonus: Here are a couple of testimonials.
Eddie was beloved. It is that simple. He didn’t ask for much from others, and yet he was a gracious servant of all. Shortly after his death in October 1967, the football team dedicated the next game to his memory. Rice played Northwestern, a much bigger Big Ten conference team. And contrary to all predictions, Rice smashed them — for Eddie. As I recall, the score was maybe 50-6 or 50-7. One sportswriter commented on the unlikely victory with a statement that I shall paraphrase something like “Playing on the emotion of their love and respect for Eddie Wojecki, the Rice football team could have beaten the Green Bay Packers last night.”
And I claim a minuscule personal connection. I was a mere weanie. No connection to the athletic department, but when I sprained an ankle, one of my jock friends took me to Eddie. He examined my ankle, had me sit in the whirlpool for a while, and then he personally taped it. If there had been a photographer to record the moment, the picture would have had me smiling. Funny how I remember that incident more than many other, superficially more meaningful, events that happened that year. Eddie taught us all, jocks and weanies, what it means to care for one another.
One I especially liked since it came from a reader who didn’t go to Rice:
You have no idea — so I’ll tell you — how much Eddie Wojecki did to improve safety for athletes in Houston grammar and high schools. When I had my first ankle injury (at the age of 10), he had Dad bring me over to Rice, and showed me a rehab exercise. We lived in the same parish, but I know he did the same for kids around town. It was in high school that I benefited from the ankle taping that he taught our trainers. Eddie knew so much about knee injuries, he’d “scrub in” and comment during orthopedic surgical procedures — this before arthroscopic surgery had been developed!
This was lovely.
We called Eddie, “Wojecki” – but believe me, it was with both respect and love! Standing at probably less than 5’4″, he had a way of putting us players in our place if we ever got cocky.
He was a kind and gentle man and certainly one of the greatest Athletic Trainers in America.
I remember coming into the training room one day and there was golfing legend’s
Mr. Ben Hogan. He had sought out “Wojecki” for treatment for a troublesome shoulder.
True, we dedicated the Northwestern game to Eddie. There were a lot of tears shed before, during and after that night. Every time we broke our defensive huddle, we hollered “Wojecki”!!!
What a great man and a WONDERFUL FRIEND!
George L. Schulgen, Jr.
Hanszen College 1968
Eddie was was closer to 5’2″ and was a tough little guy who loved to give orders. I was the football manager for the ’53 SWC championship team. I called him “The Little General” but not to his face. I would be carrying a football dummy across the field and he would holler “take it over there” to the exact spot where I was taking it. I did enjoy working with him. Ther are still “Eddie” memories around our house. When my wife says something that sounds like a command I always say “okay,Eddie”
As a freshman in 1964. we jocks all had our introductory meeting with Eddie and the training staff. Eddie told us that his friends called him “Eddie,” and all others “Mr. Wojecki” with emphasis on the “Mr.” He served as the liaison between the players and the coaches, shared our personal problems, called us sissies if he needed to, and short of major surgery, got us ready to play the next week. I never heard anyone refer to him as Mr. Wojecki.
Eddie and we’re alter boys at the Newman Center every Friday for 5 years. He knew all of the Latin by heart. At his funeral, all of his former players showed up.
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I never knew him but it sounds like he was a great person! He was my grandfathers brother