Thanksgiving football: Jack Corley has overcome personal adversity to blossom for Bears

Thanksgiving football: Jack Corley has overcome personal adversity to blossom for Bears

STONINGTON — During quiet times at home, Stonington High football captain Jack Corley quietly reflects on how grateful he is to be excelling in school and on the football field, and how hopeful he is to continue studying and playing in college.

Life is good for the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Corley. But two years ago, just after his sophomore football season and during the holidays, Corley felt powerless and alone.

Living with a younger brother and single mom, Corley's home life was at best unstable when his mother, struggling with the cost of living in Stonington, decided to abruptly move the family to her parents' hometown in Missouri. Corley was having his own issues and did not need any more upheaval.

"I knew that the way my life was going, I was going on a path to a dark turn," Corley said. "I didn't want to continue down that dark path. I wanted to change my life."

Corley didn't want to leave Stonington. After spending a week in Missouri, he called his best friend, classmate Josh Georgetti, and made a bold request.

"I asked Josh if I could live with his family for the rest of the school year," Corley said. "In February, I moved in with them. Eventually, staying with them for the school year became a permanent thing."

Rick and Tracie Georgetti already had their own kids in their Mystic home, but two were in college. They were well aware of Corley's background and knew he just needed a safe and comfortable home to reach his potential.

"There was never a doubt to welcome him in," Tracie said. "He's a good kid."

Corley and Georgetti were no longer best friends; they were brothers. This year, Jack's younger brother Burt, 12, moved in with the family as well.

"I am beyond grateful for what they have done for me," Corley said. "To take a kid into their home and turn that kid into their family, it still amazes me. Being with the Georgettis, it's like hanging out with my family."

Stonington coach A.J. Massengale feels fortunate to have witnessed Corley overcome his hurdles, which were not of his making, not make excuses and turn his life in a positive direction.

"I am so proud of Jack Corley," he said. "Jack has overcome more than most kids have had to deal with, and he has done it with a smile and a determination that I always find remarkable. This is why so many people are committed to helping Jack become the man he will surely be in the years to come."

Listening to Corley's story, somehow discussing X’s and O’s seems irrelevant. Corley, however, has transformed into a college prospect through his maturation as a player and his physical growth through strength training. In his second season as a two-way starting lineman, Corley has excelled at defensive end. He has recorded seven sacks. And he nearly teamed up with Georgetti, a starting linebacker, for a touchdown. Corley sacked Montville's quarterback, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Georgetti and returned to the 1-yard line.

During his Stonington's football playing days, Corley has gone from being a gangly freshman with no experience to a college prospect. He made ECC Division II honorable mention last season.

"I never focused a lot on football and just ran around as an underclassman looking to hit people," he said. "Now I enjoy the cerebral aspects of the game. I progressed a lot from experience and coaching.

“I've had college coaches and recruiters tell me I have the type of frame that can put on 20-30 pounds of upper-body muscle. I hope to play defensive end or outside linebacker in college. After the season, I plan to lift like crazy and eat a disgusting amount of food — a 7,500-calorie-a-day diet."

Though Stonington (3-6) has not enjoyed the type of success Corley had hoped for this season, he still wants to extend the Bears' five-game winning streak in the Westerly rivalry. Stonington leads the series, 74-66-13. Westerly holds a 45-44 edge in Thanksgiving games.

"I want us to continue the tradition that seniors built before me," Corley said.

And playing one more game with Georgetti will be special. Georgetti burst on the athletic scene last spring when he came off the bench to pitch and hit Stonington to an epic nine-inning win over East Lyme in the championship game of the ECC baseball tournament.

"Words can't explain what Josh means to me," Corley said. "Without him, I wouldn't have been able to learn these life lessons. He's been a great positive light for me."

And Corley has been the same for Stonington.

"We are very fortunate to have so many people committed to our young people in town and in our school. To see where Jack was a few years ago and to see him today is an amazing transformation story that everyone in Stonington should be proud of,” Massengale said. “We all love Jack dearly, not for his play on the field, but for the type of person he is. His growth, and the investment he, and others, have committed have changed the trajectory of his life in ways that would have seemed impossible a few years ago.

"Jack's story is one that may not be replicable but it is one that we should all keep in mind when we think we are having a hard time or a bad day. It pales in comparison with the adversity he has overcome. We have greater perspective on what is truly important because we have been blessed to have Jack here in Stonington.”


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