Overlooked To Captain: Pat Goralski's Rise From JUCO To Goucher College

Overlooked To Captain: Pat Goralski's Rise From JUCO To Goucher College

By: Angad Ahluwalia (Athletic Communications Student Assistant)

Full circle. Pat Goralski, a senior on the men's basketball team, had his career come to an end after three years at Goucher College. Yes, you read that right. Three years. 

Playing collegiately and even professionally is a dream that many high school players have, but not everyone is recruited and they have to take a different route. One of those avenues is the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) or what is commonly referred to as JUCO.

Goralski was one of those players. He did not receive interest and if he did not go to open gyms at Anne Arundel Community College, Goralski might not have had the opportunity to score over 500 points at Goucher College. It was because of those open gyms that head coach Joe Snowden caught a glimpse of Goralski's potential and offered him a spot on the team. 

"Anne Arundel was the only option I had at the time to play basketball at the next level," said Goralski. "It was either play at Anne Arundel or give up basketball."

Goralski scored a then collegiate-best 14 points against Delaware Technical Community College and 10 points in a key NJCAA Region XX game against CCAC-Allegheny.

Just like the open gyms at Anne Arundel Community College changed Goralski's path, two meetings with Goucher College assistant coach Ralph Burley had the same impact.

"Coach Burley asked me what I was doing next year and I told him I was going to community college. He then said 'call me in two years,'" said Goralski.

Burley came to an Anne Arundel practice to watch another player but was yet again blown away by what he saw from Goralski.

Whatever path Goralski took, it brought him to Goucher as a newcomer in the fall of 2017 to begin his new career at his new home. 

"I chose Goucher because it was close to home, and I like the small college feel and the fact that my teachers could give me assistance when I needed it," added Goralski. "I saw the opportunity to play immediately which also piqued my interest."

Throughout his career he had many memorable moments including a career high 26 points against Cairn University on December 30, 2019. He also had 23 points and nine rebounds in his final home game as a Gopher which resulted in a 86-70 point win over Catholic University of America. 

"My best career moment was definitely my last home game," said Goralski. "Being able to walk off that court for the last time with a W and playing the way I did was a very special moment for me."

Goralski's career would never have been possible without Anne Arundel Community College. Most players do not know that junior college is a viable option for them, but Goralski is a junior college success story.

"I think you should never overlook any option to play at the next level and I think players should do what is best for them in the long run," said Goralski. "A lot of players look at JUCO as a worst-case scenario, but Anne Arundel got me used to being a college student-athlete. It prepared me to be able to do my work in the classroom and get that done all while being an athlete on top of that. It also taught me that a solid work ethic can take your game to levels that you didn't even know you could tap into." 

Players have up to two years of eligibility at the NJCAA level before their eligibility expires. Goralski believes that the best way to help your recruitment is to market yourself.

"Learn to market yourself and get your name out there," said Goralski. "Don't be afraid to contact coaches first like filling our recruiting forms on team sites, you have to be able to sell yourself. It is all a big marketing game for the right players to find the right programs." 

Reflecting on his time at Goucher, Goralski credits a lot of his success on his journey to the path he took to get here.

"Absolutely. I wouldn't have done it any other way," said Goralski. "The people I've met at Goucher are some of the most genuine people you will meet and I appreciate the things this school has done for me everyday."

Goralski posted 518 points and 317 rebounds in his three seasons in Baltimore. The senior's maturation really showed in his final two seasons with 487 points in that span and came a long way from being that little recruited high school player into one of the leaders at Goucher.

Goralski plans to become a firefighter and give back to his high school where it all started for him and become a men's basketball assistant coach in the future.  

Full circle. From barely getting a look or giving up basketball to taking a huge leap of faith at Anne Arundel Community College and turning that into the dream of playing college basketball. Goralski certainly has come a long way and his last three years have been special in many ways.


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