Brian Bolewicki hated sitting out Towson's run to the Colonial Athletic Association tournament crown and a meeting with top-seeded Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA postseason because of a serious knee injury. But the Cockeysville resident and Calvert Hall graduate could at least temper his frustration by living vicariously through his teammates.
"It was disappointing, but in the bigger scheme of things, that was the best team I've ever been a part of in the four years I've been here," he recalled. "I was very proud of the way we played, and one of the biggest accomplishments was when we beat Hopkins [7-5 on Feb. 10, 2015]. I didn't play, but it was awesome. It was very disappointing, but I'm back now and I feel 100 percent. That's all you can really ask for."
Bolewicki's return is timely. The No. 17 Tigers graduated their entire first midfield from last spring, and coach Shawn Nadelen said Bolewicki is in the running with senior Ben McCarty and juniors Michael Lynch and Tyler Konen to start in Saturday's season opener against Mercer at 12 p.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Nadelen said Tuesday that the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Bolewicki is in the best shape of his collegiate career, but is valued for his on-field intelligence.
"Brian's an IQ guy," Nadelen said. "So you think of him as a glue guy on the offensive midfield. Not having him in the mix last year, I don't know if it led to any kind of demise, but it just takes away an option for you, a guy that could fill a role. It's been good to have him back in the mix."
Bolewicki said he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee while dodging in a non-contact exercise during a fall workout in 2014. Bolewicki said he could have played in that NCAA tournament game against Notre Dame on May 9, but he would have been laboring.
Bolewicki, who removed his knee brace last month, knows the pressure is on him and his teammates to replace last year's starting midfield of Justin Mabus, Andrew Hodgson and Greg Cuccinello. Bolewicki said that trio's leadership is still relevant today.
"Playing with those three guys for four years, they've taught everyone the way," Bolewicki said. "We know what to do and how to do it. It's pretty much a next-man-up mentality. Last year, I got hurt, and it was whatever. It was the next guy up. The first thing I learned is there are no [committed] spots here. If you're playing well, you're playing. Andrew, Justin and Greg instilled in us that when they were gone, we would have to carry on. That's the way we've rolled."