To refer to Patrick Brunken Jr. as a scholar athlete may just be an understatement. This incoming freshman at Benedictine University spent his 4-years at Marian Central in well-balanced manner, mirroring his personality precisely.
Brunken has received recognition from the IHSA for Academic Excellence, was a member of Catholics in Action and Gavel clubs, participated in multiple volunteer opportunities including with Fighting Irish football, maintained a 3.4 GPA as well as being named Student of the Week in October 2017 by the Woodstock Independent.
In true: God, Family, Academics, Athletics form his sports prowess in a close second to his school accomplishments, being a 4-year football player, 4-year lacrosse player (2017 Team MVP) and 3-year wrestler (2016 Sectional Qualifier, 2014 Conference Champion). As he prepares to embark for Benedictine University, where he will be playing for the Eagles in the Fall, Patrick sat down to discuss: his journey through football and towards college as well as what he has learned through his already storied academic and athletic career.
So tell me about you football journey… How old were you when you started and any fond memories? I first started playing football in the 3rd grade. I originally played for the Huntley Mustangs, I was a running back and a defensive end. All I ever wanted to do as a kid was to play football. I also played other sports prior, because my dad wouldn't let me play when I was younger. I finally convinced him in 3rd grade to let me play.? During my first year playing, my team went to the super bowl. Nothing will ever top that moment when I was a kid, that meant the world.
As you prepare to start your first season with the Benedictine University what have you already learned about playing football at the next level? Everything is different, so much more is expected of you. Also you are no longer the biggest and the oldest, so you're going to have to work twice as hard to get back to the top.
What are you most excited about with this new chapter in your life? I am excited for my education. I actually am extremely excited for my classes to start and I have to say football. How could I not? It's a huge part of my life.
What advice can you give the upcoming Freshman who will be playing for the Marian Central Hurricanes…any survival tips? The amount of work you put in, is the amount you will get out. Do as the upperclassmen and coaches say and everything should be fine
How did you spend your last summer before you officially become a college student? I have been working for Coca Cola for most of the summer. I've also been working out and preparing for the upcoming season.
What is one thing that you learned in youth football, that you still commit to and/or practice on the college football field? Having fun. If I didn't love what I do, what's the point in continuing to play at the next level.
What was the best/worst part of going through the process of finding a college; especially when you want to play sports? The hardest part is you build bonds with the coaches from other schools and telling those coaches no is the hardest thing out there. The best thing is the experience. Traveling across the country to go visit the schools with my dad, those are the experiences I won't forget.
What do you think is one thing you will miss about High School Football? Friday night lights, nothing better.
Any message you can tell those 1st year football players? As I still think about this, it's all about having fun. The experience and bonds you make with your teammates will last a life time.
How does your faith fit into your college selection and where does it have a place on the football field? I went to Saint Mary's and then Marian, as you can see my faith has always been with me when growing up. When I made my college decision my faith was a part of that choice and Benedictine being a catholic school was a perfect fit.
You are actively involved in a lot of activities off the field as well; how does that make you a well-rounded person (volunteer, academic groups etc)? At Marian I was a part of two clubs; Gavel my junior year and Catholics in Action for four years. I was a school mentor and a retreat leader, which was my greatest achievement out of everything I have done at Marian. I also played three sports football, lacrosse, and wrestling. Doing all of these thing molded me to the man I am today. It taught me responsibility, dedication, courage, and loyalty. It taught me to treat everyone the way you want to be treated. Which is very important in the game of life.