Benet's Bastuga snaps for charity
There's more riding on Benet long snapper Mick Bastuga's job than simply zipping the football back to the punter.
One snap at a time the Benet senior raises money to battle childhood cancer. His father, John, was diagnosed with cancer at 11 months old.
He survived that to become a place-kicker at Benet and at St. Norbert College. Now he coaches Benet's kickers and snappers.
His father's story impacted Mick, who is donating to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.
"It put my grandparents through a lot, and I wanted to do something to help," Mick Bastuga said. "Whether it was people struggling financially, I wanted to help lift the burden off people who had to go through that."
This season Bastuga has taken monetary pledges for each snap he successfully delivers to holder Luca Hall on field goals and extra-point kicks, and to Redwings punter Colin Gillespie.
"Every little bit helps," Bastuga said.
He has executed 45 snaps cleanly, raising $730 through the charity's Kick It! initiative.
Bastuga initially limited his campaign to the regular season, which ends Oct. 26. With Benet having clinched a playoff spot, he'll continue as long as the Redwings do.
"I didn't want to jinx it," said the 5-foot-11, 225-pound Bastuga, a prospective engineering student who plans on playing in college as a long snapper.
Bastuga tries not to think about pledges when he's snapping the ball. It's not easy.
"Yeah, it's in the back of my mind all the time, like, if I make this it's that much more money," he said. "But I try to keep that out of my head because there's already enough pressure in the game."