Former Seaman standout Jacob Hurla was All-City and received All-Class 5A recognition in both football and basketball for the Vikings and capped his high school career in the 2011 Kansas Shrine Bowl.
Jacob’s younger brother, Jeremy, never put on a helmet or pads but will be a part of the East team for the third time in Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. Shrine game at Pittsburg.
Jeremy Hurla, the youngest of 10 kids in his family, was born three months prematurely, weighed one pound, seven ounces at birth and spent the first three months of his life in the hospital.
At least partially because of that tough start Jeremy never really developed athletically, but he has found his niche in sports as a team manager, a role he will fill in the Shrine Bowl for the third straight year. Hurla also served as team manager for Seaman’s football, boys basketball and softball teams throughout his high school career.
“I’ve always been involved as a manager, but haven’t really played anything since youth sports,” Hurla said. “Obviously, coming right behind Jacob (now a wide receiver at Northern Iowa), there was a little bit of pressure on me to be an athlete, but ultimately I had to decide what was best for me and I felt like being a student manager was what was going to give me the most happiness and benefit me the most.”
It’s a role that Hurla has embraced since day one.
“I take the losses just as hard as the players and coaches do,” he said. “I’m there every day and I understand what they go through. But the flip side of that, take softball for example at Seaman this year, having a great undefeated run in the regular season and winning Centennial League, I get to share in those great moments as well.”
Hurla was a nominee last month for the Topeka Shawnee County Sports Council high school awards as most inspirational male athlete, with Seaman football coach Blake Pierce and Viking softball coach Jay Monhollon both writing letters of recommendation.
“He took on the role of manager with a great sense of pride and determination to be as helpful to our football team as he possibly could,” Pierce wrote. “At Seaman he has brought genuine respect for the job of being a team manager on the football team.”
Monhollon echoed those thoughts.
“Jeremy is committed to all the programs regardless whether the program is in season or in the offseason,” Monhollon wrote. “Jeremy’s work ethic is tremendous on and off the field. He prepares himself on a daily basis to be in the best possible position to succeed at the task at hand.”
Hurla said the pleasure has been his.
“Being around it for four years at Seaman and the last three with the Shrine Bowl, the wins and losses, they are what they are, but I’ve been very blessed to work with some great coaching staffs and players and for the most part it’s been a very enjoyable four years and I have a lot of very close friendships that have been forged because of this opportunity,” Hurla said.
Hurla will attend Emporia State this fall, majoring in elementary education with an emphasis on social science at the fifth- through eighth-grade level and pursuing a minor in coaching.
Hurla doesn’t plan to try to be a manager for the Hornets, at least not his first year, but will work for the Emporia school district as a tutor and remain involved with sports by refereeing volleyball and basketball.
Monhollon said that no matter what path Hurla takes he will be successful.
“It has been a privilege seeing Jeremy develop into a young man with high standards and self-discipline,” Monhollon said in this summer’s recommendation letter.
“Jeremy would be an asset to any program or educational institution and possesses the high moral fiber and perseverance to succeed. I give Jeremy my highest marks.”