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Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
WORCESTER — Seamus Wallace and five of his Assumption College football teammates gathered around the TV in his dorm room Saturday afternoon to watch a showdown between Southeastern Conference rivals Louisiana State University and Auburn. They were focused on one player: Former teammate Cole Tracy, the Greyhounds' all-time leader in field goals and points scored, who is now kicking for LSU and is presently Assumption's most popular alumnus.
LSU trailed by two points and drove to the Auburn 24-yard line with two seconds on the clock.
The situation set up perfectly for Tracy.
"I was hoping for it," said Wallace, Assumption's junior punter. "We were all sitting on
the edge of our seats. Then, we were all jumping up and down."
Tracy drilled a 42-yard field goal to lift LSU to a dramatic 22-21 win. Auburn's 87,000-seat Jordan-Hare Stadium went mostly silent. LSU's fans and players went crazy. Tracy's new teammates carried him off the field on their shoulders and into the limelight.
"It was like the final scene in 'Rudy,'" Wallace said. "I talked to Cole Saturday night and I'm like, 'Dude, that's unreal.' It's like living the dream all kids have."
LSU fans think Tracy is pretty great, too, and they've expressed their gratitude to his college alma mater.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 100 donors have given more than $5,000 to Assumption in Tracy's name.
"It's terrific," said Tim Stanton, Assumption's vice president for institutional advancement. "I've never seen anything like this in my almost 20 years of fundraising. We were caught totally off-guard, but knowing LSU has such rabid fans and he's been such a great addition to that team it's not ludicrous that this happened, but we never expected it."
Tracy asked Stanton to be sure the donations go to Assumption's football program. Stanton said he would.
During Assumption's annual fundraising golf outing, the Father Bissonnette Invitational, Monday at Worcester Country Club, Stanton talked about what a proud Saturday it was for Assumption after watching Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, a 1983 AC graduate, guide his team to victory on NBC, then turning the channel to CBS and seeing Tracy make the winning field goal.
"The whole community is proud of this kid," Stanton said. "It's pretty neat."
Also on Saturday, Bob Chesney celebrated his first victory as Holy Cross coach, which came on a field goal in overtime, then went home and celebrated Tracy's winning field goal with family and friends. Chesney was Tracy's coach at Assumption. The scene at his Worcester home was similar to the one in Wallace's dorm room.
"Oh, man, it was awesome," Chesney said. "It was so awesome. Again, it's something we felt like he could do. It's neat that the rest of the world gets to see this."
During national broadcasts of LSU football games, "Assumption" and "Worcester" are now standard words in the script. Assumption assistant director of athletics for communications Ben Stockwell gathered and sent video clips of Tracy kicking at Assumption to ABC to use during its broadcast of LSU's opener against Miami. The Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated called Chesney this week. Stanton also talked to SI. Saturday night "Cole Tracy" was trending on Twitter.
"It's nice everyone else gets to experience what made him so great (at Assumption) because he really is unbelievable," Chesney said.
Tracy graduated from Assumption in May after a sensational career for the Greyhounds. In 2017, he led NCAA Division 2 in field goals and field goal percentage, and was the recipient of the Fred Mitchell Award which is given annually to the top place kicker in FCS, Division 2, Division 3 an NJCAA for excellence on the field and in the community. He did not play as a freshman at Assumption, so he had one year of playing eligibility left. With hopes of one day playing in the NFL, Tracy seized the opportunity to play big-time football at LSU as a graduate transfer.
This week, the Tigers are ranked No. 6 in the country.
In his first game, he tied an LSU record with a 54-yard field goal against Miami. The next week, against Southeastern Louisiana and in front of 96,883 fans at LSU's Tiger Stadium, Tracy nailed a 50-yarder as well as all four of his extra-point attempts.
His journey, from his home in Camarillo, California, all the way across the country to Division 2 Assumption, to a major college football program, where this week he gained hero status, has garnered national intrigue and set off Cole Tracy mania on Assumption's campus and around the city.
"There is such a buzz around campus," Assumption field hockey coach Annie Lahey said. "Everywhere you go. Everywhere you go. There is barely a conversation that occurs where you don't overhear, 'Oh my God! Did you see it?' Or you walk into the office and everyone says, 'Did you see it?' Coaches are texting each other during the game, 'Did you see it?' I teared up when I saw him make this week's field goal. It's just so great."
The attention has not changed Tracy one bit. He's still the humble, gracious, genial and all-around great kid everyone loved at Assumption.
"You can see in the (TV) interviews he's the same exact kid," Lahey said. "We could not be happier for him."
Lahey, assistant supervisor of Assumption's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) got to know Tracy well when he served as SAAC vice president last year.
Director of athletics Jamie Marcoux began at Assumption in early June. She wasn't here for Tracy's Assumption playing career, but she knows all about it and is also thrilled about his success on the big stage.
"His success is of no surprise to anyone here," Marcoux said. "He was an amazing student-athlete for Assumption and now he is accomplishing amazing things at LSU. We are all watching and cheering him on."
Long before Tracy lined up to attempt a kick for LSU, Wallace changed his favorite athlete to Cole Tracy in his Assumption bio.
"For me coming in and having him as an older player made me the player I am today," Wallace said. "He brought me under his wing and taught me how to keep cool in tense situations."
Wallace and Tracy communicate regularly.
"I'll text him or he'll send me a Snapchat and he's wearing an Assumption specialist shirt sitting in the middle of the LSU campus saying, 'Go Hounds!'" Wallace said. "So many people are tuning into LSU games to see him do what he did here. He's making Assumption proud for sure."
Contact Jennifer Toland at email@example.com Follow her on Twitter @JenTandG.
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