When you have a father who played college football and a mother who swam at the collegiate level, it almost seems as if there isn’t much of choice other than to aim to compete at a high level.
MBA student Mike Paskas and senior Ally Paskas have upheld their family’s tradition as they’ve become household names in the Wilkes Athletics community. Come graduation of spring 2017, Ally and Mike will have letters for four distinct athletic programs at Wilkes University.
Mike was a middle linebacker for the Colonels for the past four years and after a four year hiatus from the mat, the graduate student will be scrapping for Wilkes this winter in his first ever collegiate wrestling season.
An early childhood and education major, Ally has continued to play a vital role in the Colonels’ volleyball and softball squads throughout her athletic campaign.
Whether it was playing cards at a young age in their home in Rutherford, NJ, or battling to lead their teams to a playoff bid in the MAC tournament, their innate competitive nature has led them to become standout student-athletes at Wilkes.
With the guidance of their parents, the New Jersey natives both started their athletic careers at a young age. Mike started wrestling and playing football at the age of 6. Same went for his sister, Ally as she started playing softball and soccer at 6 years old. Once she got to high school, Ally decided to venture into a new pursuit in volleyball.
Since their adolescent years, the siblings have leaned on each other to move through challenges and flourish as individuals.
“Mike and I would argue and try to beat each other in card games, tag, or goofing around outside with a kickball. In the house, we were always talking about sports or how practice went that night,” said Ally.
When discussing their upbringing, the two Rutherford high school graduates credit their success to their parents, especially their father, Mike Sr.
“My father was always my coach in everything I did and I can not put into words the wisdom I have gained from him. He passed down his knowledge of each game and all our success in athletics is a product of his teachings,” stated Mike.
The proximity from Rutherford to Wilkes-Barre had a considerable amount of influence on the Paskas’ decision to commit to Wilkes. Mike was in freshman year while Ally was a senior in high school on her college search.
Ally knew her college decision would be predicated off her ability to participate in both of the sports she committed her teen years to. Her choice became clear once she found out she would be able to compete for the Colonels in volleyball and softball.
Ally found solace in knowing she would have the opportunity to continue to nurture her relationship with her older brother.
“Having Mike at Wilkes with me made the transition so much better and easier. Meeting people was easier, learning the campus was easier, and having someone who went through their first year already so he knew what I should expect was great. It really shows how close of friends we are and that we have each others backs.” said Ally.
Mike jokes he was a bit skeptical of his sister to join him at Wilkes University, yet now knows he would not trade it for the world.
“At first I was a little hesitant with the decision for her to attend Wilkes but I can honestly say I can’t imagine going to school without her now.” said Mike.
Mike has developed a stronger drive simply by witnessing the sheer tenacity Ally has displayed while balancing the schedule of being a dual sport student-athlete throughout her collegiate career.
“Ally really does not have an off season and her consistent success has taught me that if you put your head down, dedicate yourself to your craft and work hard, you will always find a way to excel. I have always wanted to set an example for her and give her someone to look up to; an older brother she can look at be proud of,” stated Mike.
The two feed off each other in pursuit of excellence. They carried their tight knit relationship into their training, as they would train at the same gym in the summer amid several other collegiate athletes in North Jersey.
The siblings continue to integrate the values their parents taught them at a young age to become models in the Wilkes University community. Although they are away from home, the Paskas family remains close as Mike and Ally get to enjoy their company and support from the stands during their respective athletic events.
“They are our biggest fans and off the top of my head, I can only count a handful games they have not attended in both our times at school. That is truly amazing and something I cherish.” said Mike.
As Ally follows her aspirations to become an educator and Mike starts his career at Pricewaterhouse Cooper next year, the two take pride in the journey they are enjoying at Wilkes and will use their competitive edge to fulfill each other’s potential.
“My favorite part about going to college together is getting to share all the memories we are making together and being there for each other when we need it. We have so much pride for each other. We want each other to be successful in whatever it is we do.” said Ally Paskas.
Both Ally and Mike Paskas continue to work hard for their respective teams.