October 9, 2003

All the Qualities of a Leader

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“You can’t quantify leadership,” sprint football head coach Terry Cullen said when asked to describe senior captain Bill Mascaro.

But the more you learn about Mascaro, the more obvious it becomes that he personifies the elusive qualities of a leader.

Mascaro exemplifies hard work. His athletic career at Cornell started in wrestling, but he stopped after his freshman year. Instead, he found his niche on the sprint football team.

“It took some time to get used to the league,” Mascaro said of his first impressions of sprint football. “I thought it would be like club football, but it’s mostly really good athletes who are just too small for varsity football.”

Instead of being intimidated by the speed and fitness of the competition, Mascaro buckled down and got to work.

“He started out as average and has become an outstanding player and leader,” Cullen said of Mascaro’s progression over the years.

Mascaro’s dedication culminated in an impressive junior season. As a linebacker, he tallied 19 tackles, including 14 solo stops. His exemplary play has continued this season.

“[He is] one of the dominant defensive players on a young team,” Cullen said. “He is the anchor for [the defense].”

As one of the team’s three captains, Mascaro is responsible for leading and motivating the team.

“This is an extremely difficult year,” Cullen said of Mascaro’s role as captain. “Two of the three captains have been injured, so the burden has been on Bill to be the on-field captain.”

Mascaro has stepped up to the challenge. Under his leadership, the team has set the goal of going undefeated throughout the rest of the season. The youth and lack of experience on the team played a role in its early loss to Army, Mascaro said.

“Now we have experience and key players are back,” he said of the team’s current status. “We want to dominate the league.”

Mascaro credits much of his success to the teammates and coaches that have been with him for the past three years.

“We have a really supportive coaching staff,” he said. “They help keep everyone motivated.”

The sprint football network has helped Mascaro prepare for the future, both professionally and on a personal level.

“The purpose of the team is more than football. It’s to mold guys on the team into better men after graduation,” Mascaro said. “There’s a huge alumni network.”

The team and the alumni have helped Mascaro carve out a path for himself. He interned with an insurance company last summer. After graduating from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations this coming spring, he hopes to get a job doing management consulting or investment banking.

Mascaro’s experiences and friends on the football team have also contributed to his development over the years.

“Football has been a worthwhile experience for me,” he said. “It’s been a really great time both in the offseason and in-season. Just being able to play football again has been really great.”

Playing sprint football has made Mascaro’s Cornell years challenging and exciting.

“I’ve had a rewarding experience on the team athletically and professionally,” he said of the past three years.

This experience has also given people a chance to get to know Bill Mascaro, the leader, whose most exciting memory from his years on the team is a charity game played to benefit inner-city kids. From a sophomore intimidated by the skill of those on the playing field, Mascaro has developed into a player and a person who demands respect from those around him.

“I know him very well off the field,” Cullen said of Mascaro. “And he is one of the outstanding student-athletes here at Cornell.”

Mascaro is more than a student-athlete. He is a natural leader who will have the chance to take his team through one last season before leaving Cornell to make his mark on the rest of the world.

Archived article by Olivia Dwyer