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November 22, 2012

Anzalone, Matuska work holidays

Winning comes with a price.

For Notre Dame commitments Alex Anzalone and Jacob Matuska, that means early morning Thanksgiving practices.

Anzalone and Matuska have led their teams on deep post-season runs that continue on Friday, forcing the two to adapt their holiday plans.

"For the past two years we've practiced on Thanksgiving, so it's almost second nature to practice," said Anzalone, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker from Wyomissing, Pa.

Wyomissing Area will practice at 9 a.m., leaving the rest of the day for the Spartans to feast on Thanksgiving grub and rest for Friday's playoff game against Bermudian Springs. A win this weekend would put Wyomissing Area into the quarterfinals.

"My mom is the only one that really has to adapt because she and my grandma do all of the cooking," Anzalone said.

It's a tradition for the Wyomissing community and former players to attend the turkey day practice session. Anzalone is looking forward to the opportunity to meet the players who came before him and he plans to be a part of that tradition in the future.

"It's awesome," he said. "A lot of people care about our program and take care of us. It gives us the feeling that we're not just playing for ourselves, but for so many other people that put in as much time as us."

It's the same at Bishop Hartley High School in Columbus, Ohio, where Matuska and his Hawks teammates will spend time on Thursday preparing for Friday's state semifinal game against Clinton-Massie.

This is the second time in three years that Hartley will practice on Thanksgiving. The Hawks won the state title in 2010, which forced them to practice throughout November.

"We treat it just like any other practice," Matuska said. "We do something special too during this practice. We invite all the alumni that want to come back and they talk to our team after practice. It's a very special moment for all of us."

Following practice, the Hawks spend time with their traditional families.

"We all have time to spend the day with our families since our practice ends at 12," Matuska said. "We realize the importance of family, so it is an even more special day."

The price Anzalone and Matuska pay for a shot a state title pale in comparison to the return on investment they'll receive with a couple more victories.


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