Former Lehigh quarterback Brad Mayes, ‘19, looks to pass against Colgate University. Before COVID-19 caused limitations, Mayes was supposed to play football professionally in Germany. (Courtesy of Brad Mayes)

Q&A: Catching up with football alumni

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The Brown and White spoke with football alumni Brad Mayes,‘19, Nick Shafnisky, ‘17, and Dominick Bragalone, ‘19, to reminisce on their student-athlete experience and catch up on what the former standouts have been doing since graduating and how they’re staying busy in quarantine.

Q: What are you currently doing professionally?

Brad Mayes, former Lehigh quarterback: I was supposed to go play football professionally in Germany for the Dresden Monarchs as a quarterback in April, but COVID-19 stopped all of that. Now, I am teaching and coaching at Berkeley Prep High School in Florida.

Nick Shafnisky, former Lehigh quarterback: I have my hand in a lot of pots and a lot of different avenues and industries, all tailoring to deal with professional athletes and celebrities. Whatever their specific talent, I help them connect with other companies and market themselves. I’m not working for an individual or a company, and since I’ve been out of college, I’ve been blessed to be strictly independent. It’s allowed for doors to open about how you want to hustle and put yourself out there, which translates to me as a football player into an entrepreneur now.

Dominick Bragalone, former Lehigh running back: Back in February or March, I signed to play in the Canadian Football League, but that season was canceled because of COVID-19. I’m still signed and plan on going to play in May of 2021, and I’ve been training to prepare for it.

Q: How have you been occupying yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic?

BM: While I was still supposed to play (in Germany), I was working out and watching film. Now, I have started taking a real estate class to obtain my real estate license for Florida.

NS: I’ve been traveling more than I ever have because of this app called The Spoke that I created. We bring celebrities, professional athletes and anyone with a following onto these tech startups to expose them to their existing followers. As a director of talent, I am on a Zoom or phone call every day to promote these tech startups, and we need two things: celebrities and investments. I travel around to meet these individuals, and I’m constantly connecting with people to create a relationship to get the deals done.

DB: I’ve been trying my best to stay busy. My days are exactly the same: I wake up, work out, take a nap, and hang out with family. If I’m bored enough, I might even work out twice in one day. Working out has been killing my time. It’s gotten to a point where itsbecome boring, but I’ve been pushing through.

Q: What are your favorite Lehigh memories?

BM: Being so far from home, especially playing football being a year-round commitment, I never got to come home for summer or Thanksgiving breaks. My friends made (Lehigh) a home away from home for me. People brought me in for (the holidays), and it didn’t make me homesick.

NS: Lehigh has opened my eyes to more avenues than I looked at as a one-dimensional athlete. Intro to entrepreneurship was one of the main reasons I’m where I’m at now. I liked working with different peers and partners because I wanted to be with different people to see how their brains worked. One class, we watched Shark Tank, and there were two Lehigh grad students. Seeing those two guys who went to Lehigh and took the same entrepreneurship class as me was like, ‘Wow, why can’t that be me?’ That class helped me open up my eyes to all the different variables.

DB: Obviously winning the Patriot League Championship twice in a row, every Lehigh-Lafayette week, and being around all 80 guys and messing around, having a good time. I miss that the most. Looking back, there are so many good memories I have from hanging out in that locker room.

Q: How has your experience on the football team shaped you today?

BM: The position that I played definitely made me have to become a leader, deal with people, and have time management with workouts, practice, and studies.

NS: The Lehigh football team has given me everything. Julie Sterrett (who now goes by Ammary) transitioned my mind to stop being a selfish, young football player into more of a team-oriented leader and captain. The captains of every sports team would meet with Ammary, and looking back at it, I took a lot from that I still use to this day. What Julie and the department did for us was amazing, but I also had the best coaches you can imagine at Lehigh. I got better year after year, and I credit that to my coaches. 

DB: Lehigh shaped me into being a more outgoing person. Going into college, I just kept to myself and didn’t really talk to anyone or make the effort to meet new people. The team helped me get out of my comfort zone. I’m a completely changed person now compared to freshman year, and that’s the biggest thing football has done for me.

Q: What was the best team moment you experienced at Lehigh?

BM: Junior year of 2017, we were playing Lafayette for the Patriot League Championship game. We were losing at halftime and came back to win against our rival. We rallied the team, didn’t give up on one another and faced adversity to win the Patriot League Championship.

NS: Lehigh versus Bucknell my senior year when we won the Patriot League Championship. My senior year was just different: it was an all-inclusive team. There was no game we went into thinking we were going to lose. We knew we were going to win. When we beat Bucknell on our home field for the championship, I remember my mom running up to me crying. I was hugging her, and she was saying, “You finally did it! You finally did it!” It was the best day out of all my four years.

DB: My sophomore year, we won (the Patriot League Championship) outright. That was our best team for the four years I was there. We just kept winning. In 2017, my junior year, we started off not too hot, then we had a big win over Colgate in our first league game, and it carried our momentum through the rest of the year to winning the championship that year, too. Two completely different years, but we won it in the end.

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