Reporting Shane Kitzman
Why’s Harry Pitera always got a grin on his face?
Probably because the two-time All-MIAC outside linebacker has his No. 2-ranked Tommies off to a 2-0 start.
Maybe it’s knowing that 10,000-plus fans will be on hand to watch his senior class aim to cap their careers having never lost to arch-rival St. John’s, former MIAC immortal and national powerhouse.
“It’s something you can’t replicate when you play other teams in the MIAC,” he said.
Then again, with a nickname like Flash – he clocked a 10.9 in the 100-meter dash at Cretin-Derham Hall – it’d be hard not to smirk.
“I think I’ve got a good no-teeth smile,” said the 22-year-old. “I started it two years ago and someone said it looked like ‘Zoolander.’ So I figured I might as well keep doing it.”
Not planning on being present at 1:10 p.m. Saturday for arguably the biggest Division III football event of 2013? Tune in to 830 WCCO.
In the meantime, here are 7 reasons for the senior’s smug disposition.
He’s at ease, courtesy of Core Power yoga
“I got an unlimited month at Core Power for my birthday this summer from my mom,” he said. “I’d like to think I’m the most flexible guy on the team. I led us in a team stretch last week (before playing River Falls). Flexibility is sometimes over looked.”
After tearing his meniscus, tweaking his MCL and breaking his fibula, all as a collegiate athlete, he figured delving into yoga could prevent future ailments.
“I still do it about two to three times a week,’ he said. “It’s helped for sure. I can even touch my head to my knee while stretching.”
The former U walk-on found a home at UST
“Coming from Cretin, a lot of guys go D-I if you’re good enough,” he said. “You’d see coaches like Charlie Weis and Jim Tressel in the hallways. When I was a junior, I was playing with guys like Mike Floyd and Seantrel Henderson.”
Yet it didn’t work out at the U of M for the All-State defender. A call from Glenn Caruso during his freshman year had him back in St. Paul the following season.
This fall, he has just 1 class
Come December, the marketing major graduates, as he took an extra semester to complete his undergraduate degree. Sounds a bit like Matt Leinart’s class schedule, right?
Except Pitera isn’t taking ballroom dancing.
“I’m taking a history class,” he said. “I was thinking about it … four credits at St. Thomas is pricy, so I might as well take something worthwhile.”
Because he’s always goofing around
Close friend and teammate Kyle Whitley has to put up with Pitera constantly quoting movie scripts at practice. This week, it revolved around “Superbad” and “21 Jump Street.”
“He’s loud, vocal, and jokes around,” Whitley said. “He’s very witty and has a lot of play on words … He always has a grin on his face, whether it’s during the game or just minutes before playing St. John’s.”
He’s working, interning & volunteering
Pitera witnessed knee and hip replacement surgeries as part of his internship last summer at DePuy Orthopaedics.
“That was eye-opening coming from gruesome sports like football – I hope that doesn’t happen to me later on,” he said.
Oh, and his January 2012 was a selfless one.
“During J-Term I went with a family friend to Honduras on a mission trip,” he said. “We helped out with orthopedic surgeries, and cleaned up rooms. Then we also helped out in the orphanage, cooking meals and playing with the kids.”
Home cooked meals
After living with eight guys in a house last season, he is back at his Highland Park childhood home for his final semester at UST, saving rent and spending time with his dad, Sam, and his mom, Elyse.
“People are going to the caf and I’m going home to steak and salmon,” he said.
A throwback taste in music and movies
You’ll never guess the soundtrack for his high school highlight tape.
“I wanted something different beside the typical 50 Cent that people put on their tapes — I thought it’d get some laughs,” he said.
His favorite artists include Tom Petty, Eric Clapton and John Mayer. As for cinema, he’s all about the classics.
“I watched a lot of westerns this summer — lots of Clint Eastwood movies,” he said. “My favorite was ‘For a Few Dollars More.’”
And he has no problem admitting his love of graphic novels.
“I read a lot of Superman comics,” he said. “I’m really excited for the Batman-Superman movie. That’ll be the best of both worlds.”