Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sru Kicker Honors Late Friends on Cleats

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sru Kicker Honors Late Friends on Cleats

Article excerpt

Jake Chapla's cleats have been a source of inspiration this season.

Not just for the Slippery Rock kicker and punter, who has earned the PSAC Eastern Division special teams athlete of the week award three times this season. His cleats, which have the number 10 painted on them, have also inspired the larger Slippery Rock, Beaver Falls and Penn Hills communities.

The No. 10 represents two important people in Chapla's life - former Geneva and Penn Hills soccer player Nate Ferraco, who died in a car crash in January 2016, and former Slippery Rock kicker Brian Shaw, a 2015 graduate who was killed during a traffic stop as a police officer in New Kensington last November. Both Ferraco and Shaw wore the No. 10 on their jerseys.

Chapla and Ferraco were childhood friends who played soccer together at Plum, and Chapla met Shaw after committing to Slippery Rock in spring of 2016. Shaw, who attended Burrell about 20 minutes north of Chapla's alma mater Plum, became something of a mentor to Chapla before his death a year ago.

With his cleats, Chapla has ascribed a greater meaning to his junior season.

"It's the least I can do for both of them because both of their lives were taken way too soon," Chapla said. "They were just such great people and it's the least I can do for the Shaw family, especially, who lost their son doing what he wanted to do, doing what he loved protecting people and serving the community. For the Ferracos, he was such a talented soccer player growing up and his talents, he didn't get to use them fully.

"When I ever feel down on myself from having a long day, if I'm tired after practice, I just look down on my cleats and realize I have those 10s on there for a reason and I'm just doing what they unfortunately weren't able to because they were taken away so soon."

When Chapla pitched the idea to Shawn Lutz, Slippery Rock's coach, Lutz wasn't surprised. Chapla has established himself as a leader on and off the field.

Slippery Rock has stood behind Chapla's decision and held a pregame dedication to Shaw and his family during the team's Salute to Military & First Responders game Sept. …

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