Beyond The Trophy 2019: Get to know Northwestern Chapter Vice President and defensive tackle Joe Spivak

Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.

Name: Joe Spivak

College: Northwestern Wildcats

Height, weight, class, position: 6-0, 290-pound, junior, defensive tackle

High School: Montini Catholic in Darien, Ill.

About Joe: The junior came to Northwestern in 2017 with a ton of leadership qualities after being the first sophomore in his school to be selected as a team captain and Joe was a three-year captain at Montini Catholic. … One of 12 true freshman to play during the 2017, Joe saw action in five games as a back-up defensive tackle and made his first career tackle against Minnesota. … Joe Spivak joined the leadership team for the Northwestern Chapter in 2018 and has moved into a leadership role for 2019, serving as the chapter Vice President. He attended the 2019 Leadership Development Conference and became passionate about the rare disease cause. He helped guide the Northwestern Chapter to a successful Lift For Life earlier this year. … As a sophomore in 2018 Joe played in nine games as a defensive tackle and an Academic All-Big Ten selection.

What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?

SPIVAK: The national anthem at the B1G Championship last year.  The crowd was roaring the whole time and I was sobbing like a baby! Lol! Such a powerful moment and the embodiment of so much hard work for so many young men on that field and parents in the stands!

What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?

SPIVAK: Growing up, my parents and three older sisters opened my eyes to all the amazing things that come from investing yourself in athletics: the health benefits, the development of lifelong habits, the importance of goal-setting … The list could go on and on but what I think is the greatest is the relationships that come from sports! Football has brought me so many priceless relationships and made my family so much larger. I believe that these relationships and formation of a team is what is at the core of Uplifting Athletes: We want to help the Rare Disease Community know that they are NOT alone and we are on their team! 

What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?

SPIVAK: Just how “not rare” rare disease is! Just about every one of us has had our lives affected by rare diseases and to think that families affected can sometimes be told they are alone in the fight makes me eager to let them know we are there!

What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?

SPIVAK: Grind, grind, and grind some more … but SMILE through it all! To get to the college gridiron takes countless hours of training and the discipline to make the right decisions consistently, but to even be able to have ‘College Football’ as a goal is a blessing and should be viewed like it. Your attitude is all you can control at the end of the day, and when you view the journey itself as a blessing (not just the end-goal) the quality of your craft will skyrocket. Your height, weight, and 40 yard dash time do not define your skill-set … YOU DO!

Who is your favorite NFL player and why?

SPIVAK: John Randle is easily my favorite NFL player. Randle (whose number I wear today-93) was also an undersized DT but above all was an absolute JUICE FACTORY. The guy basically trademarked trash talking and is arguably the most enthusiastic player to ever be on an NFL field. I encourage everyone to watch some videos of him on YouTube. Honorable Mention also goes to my cousin Michael Hoomanawanui who played TE for nine seasons in the league and the big brother I never had! 

If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

SPIVAK: I would choose my grandfather from my dad’s side, Joe Spivak II. I never knew my grandpa Spivak but I wish I did. When he was in the sixth grade he left school during the depression to work and help provide for his family. He worked in a steel-mill for the rest of his life among an additional 1-2 more jobs to provide for my dad and his 12 siblings. My parents tell me stories about him and how his smile and personality would light up a room. My life was nothing like this and I often wonder if I could’ve been as selfless as he was and “grinded with a smile” if I was working in a steel-mill!


What is your perfect pizza?

SPIVAK: Anything as long as it’s deep dish!

All time favorite movie?

SPIVAK: The Other Guys

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?

SPIVAK: Chick-fil-a

Favorite sports team (any sport)?

SPIVAK: Northwestern Wildcats (any sport)

What is the most used app on your phone?

SPIVAK: Instagram

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