The Mason Spirit

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Grab your Patriot paraphernalia and head on out to a game!

By Jeremy Lasich, B.A. '98

Yes, Virginia, George Mason does have a football team - a very successful one. "We are one of the best kept secrets on campus, if not Northern Virginia," says Joe Pascale, head coach since the club team's inception. And don't let the "club" designation fool you - these men are playing some serious football.

"People don't realize the success we have had, especially against the competition we are playing," says Pascale. "We have only played one other club team since I've been here."

Over the past nine years, when the team began as a club sport in 1993, the Patriots have had two undefeated seasons and have compiled a 42-21 record. In 1997, the Board of Visitors elevated the team to varsity club status, allowing it to be funded by the university. Two years ago, the squad joined the Seaboard Conference, finishing in first place, and last year it just missed defending its title, ending 7-3 and losing in overtime to Valley Forge.

The Patriots play a variety of teams from Division II and III, and some Division IA and IAA junior varsity teams. The Seaboard Conference includes Gallaudet University, Williamson Tech, Valley Forge Military College, and Stevens Tech. For the first time this year, George Mason will play a full 10-game schedule, including games against nationally ranked Montgomery College, and full scholarship programs such as Georgia State and Shaw University.

"We may be in over our heads with some teams, but we're going to be okay," says Pascale. "The only way to get better is to increase the level of competition."

George Mason does have an advantage, though. The team returns sophomore running back Tyrone Nunnally and senior defensive back Carob Mise, the offensive and defensive conference players of the year, respectively. Sophomore quarterback Mike Awadallah is also coming back to lead the offense. New faces to watch include freshmen center Jeff Reagan and defensive lineman Phil Turner.

Although Pascale is confident about his new players, he does admit that recruiting has been difficult in the past. "When I first started here, we had a great coaching staff," he says, noting that one former George Mason assistant, Mike Daley, is now head coach of the Indianapolis Firebirds. "We had a downturn in the middle, but we're back. For the first time, we bought a scouting service this year that includes all the names of top players in the area. Also, the better the school is academically, the easier it is to recruit because I don't have to sell just football, and George Mason is constantly growing in that category."

With an evolving program and increased talent, the Patriots are hoping to improve attendance at home games - played behind the tennis courts next the Physical Education Building. The field has a new scoreboard and two sections of bleachers that seat about 1,000 people.

The team is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year during the Georgia State game on October 19 at 1 p.m. Former players and coaches will be on hand, and alumni are encouraged to attend. Admission is $5; $2 for senior citizens.

Eventually, Pascale hopes George Mason will grow into a full NCAA IAA program. "That's always been our goal, but we have to raise money, and this is the first year we have been permitted to do that," he says. "We put a plan together when we started, and we are currently in the second phase of our plan."

That plan includes a stadium sometime in the future. Pascale would like to build something that holds 2,000 people and can expand as the program grows.

For more information or to follow the team's progress throughout the season, visit