By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Robert Maslanka grew up idolizing his brother, John, and followed his every move on the Warwick sideline as a waterboy.
Robert looked up to his brother, a linebacker, for a lot of reasons: John Maslanka was a leader, played with passion and as a senior wore No. 44, reserved for a special Warwick player who has extraordinary character and commands respect.
Like his brother before him, Robert has been chosen to wear No. 44 for the Wildcats this season.
(Robert and John Maslanka in 2014)
“It’s a dream come true to be a part of this tradition,” said Robert Maslanka, a middle linebacker, who made 66 tackles for the Wildcats as a junior last season. “My brother has always been my hero and I’m proud to have this opportunity. Not too many kids can say that they wore No. 44 and I look forward to representing my team this fall.”
Former Warwick coach George St. Lawrence began the tradition of designating a leader/player with the Wildcats’ No. 44 jersey in the mid-1980’s. Warwick standouts who have donned No. 44 include Jeff Hahn, who went on to Cornell, Brian Whalen, who played at Yale, and John Marion, a West Point graduate. Maslanka’s uncle, Mike Kearns, was bestowed with the honor by St. Lawrence in 1996.
(Mike Kearns talks to Warwick coach George St. Lawrence in 1996)
Linebacker Sean English wore No. 44 for the Wildcats last year. He had 47 tackles and two sacks for Warwick. English, along with Warwick coach Greg Sirico and his staff, decided to pass the tradition onto Maslanka this fall. His brother John, now a student at Delhi College, wore No. 44 in 2014.
(Robert Maslanka (left) and Sean English)
“We love Robert’s attitude and he is tenacious,” Sirico said. “He is an outstanding player and a leader. Robert is someone that we can stand behind and depend on leadership on Friday nights and during the week. We need him to lead and I know that he will do that.”
Added Maslanka: “I will be a very vocal leader to everyone on the team and I appreciate this opportunity. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coaches.”