It didn’t take long before senior quarterback Tyler Monaco was introduced to the driving force behind all Lehigh student-athletes. Named a Patriot League Champion his freshman and sophomore years, Monaco was immediately familiarized with the Lehigh football team’s close-knit dynamic and hunger for Patriot League titles.
Monaco said he fell in love with football at a young age, and he always knew he wanted to take his career to the Division I level. But he said his passion for the game extends beyond the physical aspects — the relationships he’s developed with his teammates and coaches over the years mean more to him than anything else.
He said he found a second family immediately following his introduction to Lehigh. Monaco said the Mountain Hawks foster a special atmosphere he is grateful to be a part of.
“There are many different characters on the team, and it’s cool to interact with all of them,” Monaco said.
Senior linebacker Keith Woetzel said Monaco is an inclusive teammate with a knack for bringing the team together, on or off the football field. These qualities, he said, have allowed Monaco to emerge as a respected leader on the team.
Monaco said his four years as a Mountain Hawk have helped him grow in areas other than football. He said he’s also learned how to be a better teammate and individual, and he attributes his growth to the influences of his coaches and teammates, as well as Lehigh’s athletic faculty and staff.
“I’ve learned so much, from organizational skills, to communication to how to work well with others,” Monaco said.
As a player, Monaco said he strives to think critically, process information quickly and react accordingly on the field. He said he tries not to let his emotions get the best of him and cloud his judgement during games, and he has been able to put in consistent and level-headed performances as a result.
Woetzel said Monaco excels in understanding the tactical side of the game, largely because of his commitment to grasping the ins and outs of each and every play. He said none of the players would be surprised to find Monaco repeatedly studying Lehigh’s playbook.
“(Monaco) always knows what to do,” Woetzel said.
When he isn’t reading the playbook, Woetzel said Monaco is likely watching film of his individual performances, the team’s performances or an upcoming opponents’ performances to learn strategies and adjust his play accordingly.
Coach Tom Gilmore said he has enjoyed working with Monaco, who he described as a student of the game. He said Monaco’s goal-oriented nature contributes to his preparedness for games and his ability to improve.
“It’s fun, as a coach, because (Monaco) takes it seriously and strives for his best,” Gilmore said.
With his final season as a Mountain Hawk nearing its conclusion, Monaco said he wants to be remembered as someone who puts the team first. He said he wants his younger teammates and coaches to remember him as a player who was willing to give anything and everything to take his team to victory — no matter the cost.
Following two consecutive losses to Holy Cross and Bucknell, respectively, the Mountain Hawks will look to bounce back when they face Sacred Heart on Nov. 16, in Fairfield, Connecticut.