Recent Wellington High School grad Patrick Mark will remain a Wolverine but, instead of suiting up in the blue and white, he will wear the red and black of the Grove City College Wolverines in Pennsylvania.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound safety was a standout defensive player for Wellington. In his senior year, he racked up nearly 100 tackles, four interceptions and three pass deflections. His only interception returned for a touchdown was called back during a game against Seminole Ridge High School.
Mark also earned first team all-conference, was a Town-Crier all-area selection and participated in the Palm Beach County All-Star Game.
He chose to attend Grove City for multiple reasons, but most importantly for academics. “Ninety-seven percent of the biology students get into medical school, and they have a good biology program,” he explained. “I’m going to study biology because I want to become a doctor, maybe an orthopedic surgeon.”
Mark is looking forward to a climate change and is comfortable with the location because it is close to his mother’s hometown, Pittsburgh. He went on to emphasize how he would eventually like to return to Florida to attend medical school.
Mark will be surrounded by relatives while attending the college. “I have a lot of family there in Pittsburgh, including my grandparents,” he said.
Everyone was very nice when he visited the campus, and he felt immediately connected with the coaches and some future teammates.
Mark started football playing in the Acreage Football League, where he often played receiver. “I was always one of the tallest kids on the team, and I had really good hands,” he explained.
He began his time at WHS on the freshman team, but was soon moved up to junior varsity. In his sophomore year, he was moved up to varsity immediately after the JV season, and played in the post-season on special teams for the Wolverines.
Mark reflected on that 2014 season, the year Wellington made school history, posting the school’s best-ever 11-2 record, winning the district title and making a regional finals appearance. It made a lasting impression on Mark.
That year, the Wolverines also earned the title of Palm Beach County team of the year. “It made me feel like I was a part of something,” he said. “The seniors taught me how to be mature while playing and helped toughen me up.”
Mark also noted how being a part of that team, and going as far as they did, prepared him for how a team should look.
Although he was tall, he sported a thin frame, and after his junior year, he was more motivated to gain some size and strength. “I feel like I should have gotten bigger and put more time in the gym,” he said.
That is what he did entering his senior year; he gained 10 pounds and became a nightmare for opposing receivers running pass routes into the Wolverine secondary.
Mark was not only dedicated to football; he was a dual-sport athlete and will continue that tradition at Grove City. Mark played four years of lacrosse for Wellington. He played JV early on in his career, then eventually moved up to varsity as a long-stick midfielder. His sophomore year, the Wolverines won the district championship. Mark also achieved first team all-region and won defensive player of the year each year for the Wellington lacrosse team.
“Grove City always had a club lacrosse team,” he explained. “This year, they are an NCAA varsity sport.”
Mark attributes much of what he learned to some of his coaches. “Coach Rush made the biggest impact on me,” he explained. “He taught me how to be a safety and how I didn’t have to be a head hunter.”
Mark reflected on his relationship with head coach Tom Abel. “He was the big scary coach, but he really cared about us,” he said. “Coach Abel believed in us and always knew we could do better.”
Mark was team captain, helping lead his team to a district title in his senior year and retain the Wellington Cup, a trophy they play for each year against Palm Beach Central High School that has become a tradition.
“That was my most memorable moment,” he said. “When we were down by 20 points, to come back in the second half and win by three, that was amazing.”
Mark lives by what his coaches instilled in him, to embrace the grind, keep a positive mindset, and always work as hard as you can, on and off the field. Mark is equally dedicated in the classroom. He graduated with a 3.3 GPA and a 3.7 HPA and will embark on his future this summer in pursuit of his dream of becoming a physician.
To follow Patrick Mark and the Grove City College Wolverines, visit http://athletics.gcc.edu.