Posted on

Comet senior Mario Hoefer receives Musial Award for act of sportsmanship

Comet senior Mario Hoefer receives Musial Award for act of sportsmanship
Photo provided
IN THE PRESENCE OF GREATNESS: Charles City senior Mario Hoefer gets his picture taken with hockey great Wayne Gretzky and his wife Janet at the Musial Awards held Nov. 20 in St. Louis. Hoefer and the Gretzky’s were both honored for their acts of sportsmanship.

By John Burbridge

Mario Hoefer’s general mode of operation is to do the right thing even though no one may be watching.

Thus, he didn’t expect to draw too much attention to himself when he came to the assistance of an opposing football player in the middle of a tightly contested game between traditional rivals.

“Everyone was cramping up that game … I was cramping up,” Hoefer said of Charles City’s away game against New Hampton played on a damp, foggy night.

When Hoefer saw Chickasaw junior Carter Steinlage laid low with one of these meddlesome cramps, Hoefer helped a prone Steinlage stretch his leg and foot upward to alleviate the tightness in the affected area.

Hoefer would later help the Comets to a come-from-behind victory with a spectacular jumping catch and multiple tackle-breaking touchdown. But that didn’t nearly make the national headlines as him coming to Steinlage’s aid as a photo of the act went viral prompting Hoefer to be featured on ESPN, Good Morning America and People magazine.

“I’m kind of shocked how people are making such a big deal out of this,” Hoefer said. “I know how that (cramping up) feels, and I’m thankful when my teammates are there for me.”

On Nov. 20, Hoefer was honored at the Musial Awards held at the Stifel Theater in St. Louis. Held in memory of Cardinal great Stan “The Man” Musial who was widely considered a class act during his Hall of Fame career, the annual Musial Awards recognizes uncommon acts of sportsmanship performed at various levels.

Among those honored were National League MVP Bryce Harper, the Louisiana State University gymnastics team, and “G.O.A.T.” hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who was feted with his wife Janet for a lifetime achievement in supporting sportsmanship.

“I got to shake hands with Wayne Gretsky and (event producer) Al Roker,” Hoefer said.

Hoefer also got to speak in front of a large audience during a question and answer session.

“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Hoefer said. “I take a speech class at school … that came in handy.”

The 2021 Musial Awards will air Christmas Day (Dec. 25) on CBS, 4 p.m. Central Time.

Social Share