Welcome back to NLL.com’s weekly feature, Where Are They Now? Every week we will be catching up with former NLL players to hear what they are up to. As always, if there is a former player you’d like to hear from, send us a tweet @NLL.
This week’s feature is on Tom “Hollywood” Marechek, 50, former forward who played all 12 seasons of his NLL career with the Philadelphia Wings.
Marechek was initially drafted by the Buffalo Bandits with the sixth overall pick in the 1992 draft but didn’t make his NLL debut until he was traded to Philadelphia in 1994. In his first year in the NLL, Marechek was named Rookie of the Year for his 14 goals and 19 assists in a seven-game season.
Marechek finished his career ranked first in Wings history in points (773), goals (399), assists (374) and second in games played (146) and was named First team All-Pro in six consecutive years from 1996-2001.
Philadelphia won four NLL titles with Marechek in a Wings uniform – in 1994, 1995, 1998 and 2001. He was inducted into the NLL Hall of Fame in 2007.
Marachek played four years of college lacrosse at Syracuse University and coached for one season with the men’s team at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
NLL.com: What are you up to these days?
Marechek: I am helping to build a new boarding school in New Windsor, Maryland called Springdale Preparatory School. It’s a co-ed boarding and day school. My job is to start the middle school boys and girls lacrosse teams and I’m also the physical education director.
NLL.com: What is your day to day role there?
Marechek: My jobs are to coach Phys ed and run the lacrosse program, which right now involves hiring coaches and recruiting players – both boys and girls – to our school.
One of the organizations I work with is called Harlem lacrosse, which started five years ago.
They are a group of mainly inner-city kids that are placed in private schools like ours and then go to good colleges. The foundation raises a bunch of money to send kids to good private schools in all of the United States. There is a Boston, Baltimore, New York (Harlem), California and Philadelphia chapter. I’m involved with them and we have a few of their kids that are coming to our school. Our school is very diverse and it’s giving these kids an opportunity that makes this job so worthwhile.
NLL.com: How else are you still involved in lacrosse?
Marechek: I still run and own pro lacrosse camps, which I have done since 1996. I only have one travel team which is Team 42 in Pittsburgh. It’s a team of ninth grade boys. Anthony Pavlack is the head coach there, but I go up once in a while to direct camps and clinics. I go to games in Baltimore in the summer for tournaments.
NLL.com: What is your most fond memory of playing in the NLL?
Marechek: Oh my goodness. They are so many years I spent in the league. I’d say the last world championship when the Wings won in 2001 in Toronto. We shocked the whole league winning as underdogs, but we were confident. We had a bunch of scrappy American defenders and a handful of Canadians. We went into Toronto with an attitude.
They won it the two years before that and we did not play tough against them. That year, 2001, we put it together and we gelled at the right time. That was definitely the biggest highlight in my 12-year career as a Wing.
NLL.com: Do you still keep in touch with any of your teammates and if so, which one (s)?
Marechek: Oh my, yes. Obviously Gary and Paul Gait. Jake Bergey, Jeff Ratcliffe, Kevin Finneran, Dallas Elliott.
NLL.com: What is it about teaching you enjoy so much?
Marechek: My biggest reward is seeing these kids develop into young men and women. That’s the most rewarding part about teaching and coaching, it’s giving a lot of it back. And of course, having them produce on the field is rewarding.
NLL.com: Your jersey was re-retired by the Wings in their season-opening game this season. Describe the emotions you had watching your jersey being ascended to the rafters of The Wells Fargo Center.
Marachek at his jersey retirement ceremony in 2006
Marechek: They were running high. There were a lot of fans I ran into that night that I knew from years ago, so that was kind of cool. The emotions were just from being with my old teammates on the floor. And there were a lot of memories like you said. The night was full of just getting excited and getting my adrenaline pumped up to the national anthem and the music. It was very exciting and emotional because that was my life for 13 years. When you do something for that long, you don’t forget. You don’t forget the travel, the camaraderie with your friends and your teammates. The emotions were definitely running high.
NLL.com: You have the most points, goals and assists in Wings history.
Which year, or two, or three-year span did you feel that you were at your greatest, and why do you think that was?
Marechek: I would say from 1996 through 2003 was when I was at my greatest. In 1995, I was still just in my second year and in 1994 I was a rookie. But I came into my own in 1996.
All of those years I felt good. It just felt like I was gliding out there. And I think I had three more years left in me if I wanted to. But my wife was pregnant, and a lot more teams were added in the west, so it was a lot of traveling. I knew it was time to hang my stick up. I didn’t have that hunger anymore. I started going through the motions. I had a hat trick and I didn’t care that much (laughs). I lost that hunger. 2004 was when I started fading mentally but not physically. I always kept myself in great shape. The only thing I didn’t win was the MVP of the league. I thought I had a fair chance a couple of times but I didn’t get it.
NLL.com: How much time did you spend in Philadelphia and what is your favorite cheesesteak place?
Marechek: Just my rookie season in Philly when I was coaching and was in grad school at St. Joe’s. After that I lived in Baltimore.
Back then I didn’t know better (about the best cheesesteak places). Obviously there’s Pat’s and Geno’s. My wife is from Philadelphia and my in-laws live in Society Hill, so my favorite place is Ishkabibble’s on South Street. The meat is always red and is on the grill fresh, not sitting on the grill like most places. And the rolls are chewy.
Then you have your Tony Luke’s and Dalessandro’s. There was one place around the corner from The Wells Fargo Center we’d go late night after games near the hotel. It was some hole in the wall and it had a pink awning. I’m talking 1, 2 in the morning, but I just don’t know the name of that place.
NLL.com: You were an assistant coach at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia for one year. Let’s say Syracuse and St. Joe’s play each other in lacrosse – your two schools – who are you rooting for?
Marechek: Syracuse hands down. St. Joe’s is getting a lot better, but I have to go with my alma mater, Syracuse.