With a math and stats degree in his back pocket, Travis Gorski has seen his share of concepts. Student-athletes like him learn formulas and concepts for hours on end until they can’t think straight, and use the football field as an escape from the classroom. But, as the 5”9 165 pound wide receiver out of Medicine Hat High School has found out, football is more than just memorizing x’s and o’s in a playbook. When the cleats step onto the gridiron, the learning has just begun.
“You have to understand the system, when the coach puts in a play you’ve got to figure out why they are doing it. You don’t really have to know every route but you have to understand the concept of it. Once you understand the concept you can get a pretty good guess as to what routes are going to be. The coaches have really been preaching concepts, instead of doing exactly what they draw, because every defense is different right? According to the defense you have to adjust your route.”
This kind of approach to the game has seen Gorski have route-running down to an art and getting open down to a science. To most of us, getting open means either running like mad to get an extra step on the defender or roughing them up so they back off. Gorski is neither a particularly fast player or a strong player, yet he has a knack for getting open.
Don’t let the small frame fool you, he’s mentally fast….really fast.
“You need to understand what’s going on in the system and be a system player. It may sound weird but the closer you get to someone the more open you are.” quipped Gorski. “It’s a little different from high school where you’d run away from a defender and you’d be more open. When you’re at this level and everyone’s so quick you have to run towards the defender and make him turn a different way. Then all of a sudden you’re going the other way. It’s a lot more technical at this level and everything’s sped up about ten times.”
This being his 6th year with the team (red-shirt in first year) Travis Gorski carries with him many memories, the biggest coming in his first camp when he was just trying prove himself worthy enough to be on the team. His mentors and competition were some very familiar players in Huskie history.
“My first spring camp was with Nathan Hoffart (drafted that year to the Riders). That was a pretty cool experience. Just playing on that team, going against some of those 26 or 27 year olds. Often times I was like “Woah” this is almost surreal I’m only 18 out of high school playing with these guys.
Another of those players that pushed Gorski to starter status was now Montreal Allouettes CB Paul Woldu. Gorski and Woldu battled all camp, and Coach Towriss liked what he saw from the young rookie.
“After that second spring camp BT came up to me and told me “get ready to replace Leighton (Heron).” That really kicked in, ‘I really need to step it up and just continue to get better everyday.”
Credit also goes to Leighton Heron as well as slotbacks coach Jason Sulz who helped Gorski come away with the necessary tools to play at this level, but a great deal of credit can be given to Gorski’s parents, whose dogged determination day in and day out helped him see the end goal.
“I took a lot from my parents who always worked really hard at everything they do. They might not know it but I see them working hard all the time and it inspires me to work hard. Some people are maybe complacent with where they are, but my parents just seem to go that extra mile.”
In 2009, Gorski’s refusal to be complacent saw him play through the duration of the season fighting a nagging injury he sustained early in the season. Some regrets surface when realizing that had he sat out the necessary two weeks, he may have been better off. However, he’s ready for his final stretch drive with more to give to the team.
“I know the physical and mental toll it took on me coming out every day and trying to push through that pain. Now looking back if I’d only just sat out those couple weeks and really rested up. When you can play the game of football at 100% and not 60% or 70% it is a lot more fun. I feel I can give so much more to the team now”
For the last couple years, Gorski has been a key part of the Huskies return game. One of the highlights of the 2009 season saw him running a missed field goal out of the endzone for a TD the other way. It is a role he both relishes but at the same time he admits can be hard on the nerves.
“It’s something you just have to thrive on, you have to build up a relationship with the coaches. But it is fun because you do get a chance to make a play.”
The unit has had some success this year and continues to work on trying to improve, as it is something he sees will continue to pay dividends at the end of the year, when Special Teams has the possibility of being the difference maker
For six years of his life, Gorski has put his heart and soul into being a Huskie, but in a few short weeks that will come to an end. Pretty soon he will join a long list of alumni and have only memories. For some players, it becomes a motivating factor. Some like to chronicle all the “last times” that will occur over the next few weeks, but Gorski prefers not to even give it the time of day.
“I’ve not even thought about that for a second. I’m not going to think about it.”
“I’ll take it week by week and not look too far into the future, and think “oh this is the second last time I’m going to run out of the dog at home” I’m more excited to live in the moment right now.”