Joe Stock remembers being the new kid.
Stock, a senior at Holy Family University, attended the school because when he was a senior at Archbishop Ryan High School, he saw some Catholic League guys he really respected playing soccer for the team. He wanted to be just like them.
“I looked up to some of them,” said Stock, pointing to Judge grad Justin Hiltwine as one of the players he emulated. “The best players went there. Guys who we played against who were really good. I thought Holy Family would be a good place because those guys were going there and they loved it.”
Stock made the choice to stay close to home and play for the Tigers. And the only thing he didn’t love about the experience was it went by so fast.
Stock recently completed his senior year as a defender on the Tigers, and every year he played at the school was better than the year before.
It culminated this year when the Tigers made the postseason.
“Making it means everything to me because I really wanted to see us get back there,” Stock said. “We were young. We didn’t have many seniors who played, so they’re going to be really good, but I wanted to be on the team where they got back. I wanted to help them get back because this school has done so much for me.”
Holy Family not only made the playoffs, but hung tough against a top team. The Tigers fell 2–1 in overtime to Georgian Court in the quarterfinals of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament. Ryan graduate Georg Montag, who returned from a scary neck injury late in the year, scored the lone goal for the Tigers, but they were eventually bested by the third-seeded Lions.
Stock was sad to see the season come to an end, but he leaves the program as a proud member who brought the team back to the postseason.
“This year was so much fun, but every year got better,” Stock said. “The best part is we did it with guys from Northeast Philly and guys from the Philly leagues. We played in a league that had guys from all over the world. Different countries. We were a local team. I think it shows that the area has great soccer and (Holy Family coach Georg Montag, father of the goal scorer in the playoff game) does a great job. They’re doing something special here.”
The coach may have helped build a winning program, but Stock was definitely one of the key pieces in the process.
Stock was a solid defender who was a key contributor since his sophomore year after seeing some time as a freshman. But he also helped in other ways.
Remember how Stock looked to older guys as role models? Well, the younger guys on the Tigers did the same thing.
“It is pretty awesome to think that I helped some of the guys come here,” said Stock, who played with his younger brother Ryan, a sophomore goalie, at Holy Family. “I really wanted (Ryan) to come here, and I told anyone I could how much I liked it. It was great that I had a chance to play with my brother. We played together before, but it was fun to do it again.”
It was also fun to make new friends, including guys he didn’t know but are now among his most trusted pals.
Two of those players are Mark Tobin and Shane Holmes, who transferred into Holy Family at the start of the school year.
Tobin, a goalie, and Holmes, a defender, helped strengthen the Tigers defense, but they also helped the team with confidence.
“I didn’t know Shane at all, but he became one of my best friends on the team,” Stock said. “And he’s a Judge guy. I played against a lot of these guys and with some of them, but we really became close this year.
“I think we all knew when they came here that we were going to be better, but everything just worked. We were a better team all around. And a lot of the guys improved.”
Stock is considering continuing his soccer career in a men’s league, but he’s now turning his attention to life after Holy Family. The three-time member of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference All-Academic team will graduate in the spring with a degree in marketing management.
“I would love to have a job working for a sports team, doing something in sports,” Stock said. “I’ll definitely miss playing here, but if I’m not working, I’ll be at all of the games.”
And he’ll always know he was able to help get the Tigers back in the postseason.
“I’m glad we had this year,” Stock said. “This was a great year for us. I’m sad it’s over, but this year meant everything to me. And they’re going to be good next year. They’re doing great.”