Q and A With Football Seniors Chris Castelluccio and Eric Chalifour
By Sahil Patel
Sports Information Student Assistant
What made you choose to come to Washington University?
CHRIS CASTELLUCCIO: Like every student here I was drawn to the school because of the world-class education it offers. Also, when I decided I wanted to play college football I wanted to make sure I went to school somewhere close enough to home that my parents could come watch me play. Once I visited the campus I just knew it was the perfect place for me.
ERIC CHALIFOUR: I ultimately chose to attend Washington University because of the unique balance of academics and athletics, in addition to the welcoming environment fostered by the student body and administration. I knew that by attending Washington University I would be able to have a complete college experience while being a varsity athlete. Furthermore, my decision was heavily influenced by my older sister’s wonderful experience at the university (Stephanie, Class of 2009).
What does it mean to you to be a Washington University student-athlete?
CC: It is truly a privilege to be able to represent our university week in and week out against other schools across the country. I think the fact that Washington University has had so much success athletically while also maintaining such a prestigious reputation academically is a true testament to the student-athletes at this school. I take great pride in being able to say I am one of those student-athletes.
EC: Getting to represent Washington University as a student-athlete has been a tremendous honor. I love the fact that our student-athletes do not receive preferential treatment and are held to the exact same standards as the rest of the student body. Washington University student-athletes are leaders throughout campus, with many participating in Greek life, student groups, and student government. It’s a privilege to be surrounded by a driven group of men that have taken the leadership skills learned on the athletic field and applied them toward other facets of their lives.
How do you balance your schedule between football and school?
CC: It can be tough at times. There is certainly no leniency for athletes here. However, it is definitely manageable. Knowing that I only have a limited time outside of class and practice really forces me to stay on top of my work. Also, I’ve learned to love coffee, which has made the late-night study sessions after practice much easier to handle.
EC: As an underclassmen in particular, it can be a challenge to find a balance between football and schoolwork. Our coaches understand that school always comes first, then athletics, and go to enormous lengths to ensure that we succeed academically. While juggling both commitments has led to many restless nights, playing a varsity sport forces you to learn great time management and organizational skills. I’ve found that I actually perform better academically in-season as the limited amount of time to complete schoolwork makes procrastination impossible.
How did you end up as a running back?
CC: I’ve been a running back ever since I first started playing football in the second grade. At that time I really just wanted to get the ball every play. Of course I originally thought about playing quarterback, but the coach’s son played quarterback so running back was the next best option. I think it all worked out for the best.
How did you get started as a kicker?
EC: I got started as a kicker when I was a freshman in high school playing on the junior varsity team. During two-a-days, our coach asked if anyone had played soccer and could kick. Several of my teammates pointed at me and I won the job that afternoon after beating out another former soccer player who was also interested. It may come as a surprise, but kicking came as an afterthought to my play as an offensive guard and defensive end in high school.
When coach sends in a running play, what goes through your head?
CC: A million things all at once, and then nothing at all. There’s always a bit of excitement when I know I’m about to get the ball. Once the play is called I usually visualize it being played out in my head (this visualization usually involves me making a few guys miss and scoring a touchdown – if only it were that easy). Just before the snap I try to clear my mind so when the play starts I can react instinctively.
What goes through your head before each kick?
EC: We aim to get our field goals off in under 1.3 seconds from snap to kick to eliminate the threat of a block coming off the edge, which doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to think. Before the snap I try to clear my head and focus on the spot where the holder is going to put the ball down.
What is your goal every time you touch the ball?
CC: Every time I touch the ball, regardless of where we are on the field, I want to score a touchdown. Sure there will be scenarios like 3rd-and-short or 4th-and-1 where my main focus is on the first down, but every time I get a chance to carry the ball I want to score. I think that’s the only mentality to have if you want to be a playmaker on offense.
This year you took on the punting duties along with your role as kicker. How was that adjustment?
EC: It has certainly been an adjustment taking over the punting and kickoff duties this year, but I’ve relished the opportunity to make a greater impact on the success of our special teams units. I still consider myself a kicker with some punting ability, but I’m happy to be punting as long as our coaches believe that it puts our team in the best position to win games.
Looking back on your career, what is your favorite football memory at Washington University?
CC: There have been so many great memories during my time here, it’s hard to narrow it down to any single moment or game, but one victory that stands out in my mind was the one at Carnegie Mellon last year. It was in Pittsburgh in late October and it snowed almost the entire game. I had one of my best games of the season that day and the team pulled out the win late in the fourth quarter. It was an exciting game and a great way to start conference last year.
EC: My fondest football memory at Washington University came in my first year with the program when we went on a six-game win streak that was an emotional roller coaster marked by fourth-quarter comebacks, an overtime victory over Carnegie Mellon, and a hard-fought victory over a ranked Wabash squad. At the time, it seemed as though nothing could derail our team as we always found a way to win.
What are your future plans upon graduation from Washington University?
CC: I’m currently in the process of finding a job right now. I don’t know exactly what I want to do but I’m looking into consulting, corporate finance, and a few other areas of business. Where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing next year is still up in the air, but I’m excited to see how it all plays out and begin the next phase of my life.
EC: I spent the last two summers interning for magazine publishers and hope to find full-time employment in the field.