A lifelong resident of Irvington, Bednarz graduated from Irvington High School in 2006. While a member of the Irvington High School football team, he was named the team’s Unsung Hero, as well as the Offensive Lineman of the Year. He then spent his next four years at Springfield College, where he was majoring in Business and Psychology, and was scheduled to graduate in May.
Jason is survived by his mother Lisa, father Brad, and sisters Samantha and Brooke. He is also survived by his maternal grandparents Tom and June Evans, and Patricia and Richard Tetrault, as well as Aunt Teri Evans. He was predeceased by his paternal grandparents Hilda and John Bednarz.
It was said that Jason’s life was surely about the “Three F’s” – Family, Friends, and Football, all of which he loved dearly. Jason’s other passions included the family dog, Tucker, the New York Giants, reading, computers, and his girlfriend, Lauren Fahey, a senior on the Springfield College women’s swimming & diving team.
Bednarz was an off-and-on starter as a senior on the offensive line for SC. He stood 6-foot-2, and weighed in at 255 pounds. Always battling injuries, it meant a great deal to him to be a part of the Springfield College football team.
“Jason Bednarz was a tremendous teammate, a leader of young players, and an all-around good guy,” said Mike DeLong, his head football coach for the past four years. “No one had a greater work ethic, and his passion for the sport was very evident right from the start. His family was every bit as devoted to Springfield College football as he was. Jason was an exemplary person, and he will certainly be missed by many for many different reasons, not the least of which was his great sense of humor.”
“Jason was a fighter, a warrior,” said Mike Cerasuolo, his offensive line coach, SC’s offensive coordinator, and the coach he worked with most closely. “He was a self-made football player, and did a great job of developing his skills from his first year on. I can’t tell you how hard he worked to improve. He continually strove to get better.
“But every bit as important to us was the type of individual Jason was,” said Cerasuolo.“Jason was the type of player you wanted in your program. He was witty, clever, and intelligent. He was a person the younger players tended to follow, and with good reason. He truly led by example.”
The only problem with Jason was how he was constantly getting injured. It wasn’t until his senior campaign that he put together “a real season.”
“Jason finally had a chance to shine as a senior,” said Cerasuolo. “And he didn’t disappoint. But even then he wasn’t quite able to string a full year together.”
Bednarz had suffered through a torn labrum in his shoulder as a sophomore, and a torn ACL in his knee as a junior. And he made it through most of Game #8 of a very successful 10-game season as a senior.
If there was a signature win for the 2009 Springfield College football team, which finished 8-2 and was ranked No. 2 in the nation in rushing offense, it came in Game #8 on October 31, an emphatic 47-26 victory over a very good Ithaca team. Bednarz had started three games as a senior, and this was destined to be his last start at a right guard position. It was late in the contest, the game pretty much in hand, when Jason felt an unnatural crunch. He had broken his foot badly, and had to be carried off the field.
Later that night, while Jason was in a hospital bed, Cerasuolo recounted these words from his lineman.”I guess if I had to end my career, a win over Ithaca was a heckuva way to go out.” Jason then looked at his foot, and then back to Mike and with a grin said, “It was well worth it.”
Cerasuolo also recounted how Jason was exhorting his teammates to “finish the job” against Ithaca as he was being helped off the field. “Actually, I think his words were a little more colorful than that,” said Cerasuolo, smiling at the thought. “His foot was in such bad shape, but he was still going to do everything he could to keep his team fired up. That was just the type of teammate he was.”
Seven days later, Jason was one of 22 seniors honored on Senior Day before the start of the St. John Fisher game. “I wasn’t even sure we were going to see Jason that day,” said Cerasuolo. “And we really didn’t expect Jason to be on the field. But there he was, being wheeled out onto the field to join his fellow seniors and his father, mother, sister, and aunt. No one was going to keep him away from that moment.”
Jason’s final official time on Stagg Field came not too many minutes after the Pride had manhandled Plymouth State, 42-13, in the ECAC Division III Championship Bowl game. This was truly the last time all the seniors would be on the field together, and they wanted to take one last class photo under the Springfield College scoreboard in the north end zone.
All the seniors gathered in position, grins all around, ECAC trophy in hand. But somebody yelled to wait when they noticed one of their own hobbling over to be included. And there he was again, standing unaided in the very corner of the back row. No wheel chair, no crutches in sight, smiling, index finger pointing skyward. Imagine the pain he was feeling in his foot.
But Jason Bednarz was not going to miss THAT moment either.