Here’s the photo of our check presentation on the campus of West Chester University in front of Phillips Memorial Hall. We raised $2000 at our fundraiser at the Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown for the statue of Mike Horrocks which will be dedicated at the WCU Football Stadium on Sept 11, 2010.
In the photo are Athletic Director Dr Edward Matejkovic, President Greg Weisenstein, me, and Steve Grabicki(representing PA State Senator Andy Dinniman). Photo was taken by WCU photographer Bob Williams.
Here’s the story of how Mike’s teammates from West Chester University are raising money to honor their quarterback and leader from 1981 -1984.
Spend any time with the people who knew Michael Horrocks when he played football for West Chester University and you’re going to hear about the Delaware game. A lot.
Powerhouse Delaware vs. longtime rival West Chester – usually a good day for Blue Hens fans. In fact, Delaware had a 15-game winning streak against the Rams when the teams met for the season opener in 1983.
Mike was in his third year, the starting quarterback. His friend Rick Ulrich was also in the backfield that day, and he remembers the Rams initially taking Delaware by surprise.
“We got ahead pretty quickly, and by a large margin, 31-7 or 31-10,” Ulrich says. “But they slowly figured out how to stop us. Little by little they put points on the board.”
A late interception sealed the deal. Rams won, 35-27 – something that hadn’t happened since 1956 (the teams didn’t meet every year). The record-setting quarterback went on to lead his team to a 7-3 season.
“He was disciplined, on and off the field,” Ulrich says. “When he set his mind to doing something, he worked every day diligently to make that happen.”
One thing he set his mind to, and talked about often while at West Chester, was being a pilot. After graduation in 1985, he – of course – made it happen. First as a pilot and flight instructor while a Marine Corps officer. After the service, he flew for United Airlines. Along the way he and his wife, Miriam, had two children, Christa and Michael, and they settled in Glen Mills.
Mike, 38, was the first officer on United Flight 175, which crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001.
Now, on the next Sept. 11 – 27 years and a day since the Delaware game – his teammates will lead the school as well as family and friends in honoring Mike. At the season home opener against Edinboro, they will dedicate a statue of the cool, disciplined young man who led and inspired them.
The team wanted to show No. 14 in action, the classic quarterback pose of one arm extended, the other back and ready to launch the ball, eyes downfield, searching for a receiver. And that’s exactly what sculptor Brian Hanlon of Toms River, N.J., has in the works.
It will be set just off a path at the northwest corner of West Chester’s John A. Farrell Stadium, with Mike facing the gridiron. The football team will pass the statue at every home game as it makes its way from the athletic center to the field.
There had been talk of a tribute at West Chester since 2001, but vague plans began to crystallize two years ago, when Mike’s former teammates approached the school. Honors to alumni and other valued members of the university community are a natural part of school life. Plaques are hung, trees planted, buildings and classrooms renamed, scholarships endowed.
Mike’s teammates wanted a statue, which for this campus would be a one-of-a-kind tribute. (There’s the ram statue, but none of a person.)
Joe Walsh, who played center for West Chester in the early ’80s, acknowledges that Mike’s reaction to a statue would likely have been, “What the hell is that?” But, given the kind of man he was, how the football fraternity still feels about him, and how he died, the team believes strongly this is the way to go.
“Nothing short of a full statue could do Mike honor,” Walsh said. “Put a plaque on a wall and people will walk right by it. Hang it outside the locker room and then the community won’t see it.”
University officials from the athletic department to the president’s office were happy to help but skeptical. They assumed the expense and time-consuming fund-raising efforts needed to pull the project off would perhaps steer the well-intentioned teammates to a more modest tribute.
Not when a guy like Mike is your inspiration. You set a lofty goal, and then work diligently every day to make it happen.
They are indeed making it happen. The initial fund-raising target was $100,000, half for the statue and half for an annual football scholarship. They’ve raised about $68,000, so the statue is covered. They have six months to raise the remaining $32,000 for the scholarship fund, though Walsh is pushing hard for an initial fund of $100,000.
They’ve held two large dinners, organized Super Bowl and March Madness pools, and there was even a last-minute gathering at Victory Brewery Co. in Downingtown last weekend that raised $2,000. Teammates push each other for contributions, both financial and material. The landscaping and stonework around the statue, as well as the crane that sets it in place, will also be donated.
And it’s not just teammates.
“Anyone affiliated with West Chester football is trying to get involved,” Ulrich says. “Guys who didn’t know him, who maybe read about him, or just saw him play. They want to jump in and help. Their heart and soul is into the project.”
If you’d like to jump in and help, send checks payable to the WCU Foundation, Box 541, West Chester, Pa. 19381, or call 610-436-2868 to donate by credit card.