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York College senior preparing for life after basketball

Joe Polczynski shoots a basketball in Wolf Gym

Joseph “Joe” Polczynski ’20 has been playing basketball pretty much his whole life. His schedule, friendships, and whole life revolved around it. As his senior season comes to an end, he’ll pull on his green and white Spartans jersey, lace up his sneakers, and take the court with his brothers only a few more times.

He’s always known it wouldn’t last forever. It’s why he’s worked hard to get good grades and set himself up to succeed when that time came. “Basketball will end, and life will start,” the York College of Pennsylvania Biology major would remind himself. Well, that time is coming soon.

The best decision

At the end of high school, Joe and a bunch of his basketball friends were being recruited by different colleges. They all decided to go to York College. “My time at York has been awesome,” Joe says. “It’s the best decision I’ve made in my life.”

His teammates are like his family. They support one another and spend almost all their time together. But it’s not just athletics that have made him so successful at York College. “I’ve built relationships with professors and friends and faculty that will last the rest of my life,” he says, “and I think that’s the ultimate goal.”

Joe’s pursuing a Biology degree. Originally, he thought he’d go on to become a physician’s assistant. During his junior year, after doing a bunch of volunteer hours and special programs to meet that goal, he realized it wasn’t the right fit. “Something inside of me just said I didn’t want to do it,” he says.

What did seem like a perfect fit was the chiropractic field. He’d always been really big into fitness, nutrition, and overall well-being. So, he did some research and applied to Palmer College of Chiropractic in Iowa. He’ll start this summer, after he graduates from York College.

Putting in the work

It’ll be the first time basketball won’t be a major focus of Joe’s life. “It’s scary, but at the same time I’m very excited for the next chapter,” he says. He’s been preparing for this moment a long time. It was an intentional choice to make sure his athletics didn’t overshadow his academics.

He knows students on other teams who ignored their academics or pursued easy majors so they wouldn’t have to work hard. Not Joe. It’s an individual accountability thing for him. He was never pressured into getting good grades, he says, he just knew it was important, so he put in the work to get it done. “Personally, I get a sense of pride or accomplishment,” he says. “If I get a good grade on a test that kind of makes my day.”

It’s meant that when friends would go out, he’d stay in and study. But it paid off. He’s made the dean’s list three times—an impressive feat for any student, let alone a student-athlete.

The next chapter

This final basketball season is definitely special to Joe. He tries not to think about it on game days, taking it one game at a time. But that final game is sure to be emotional.

Sports will always be a part of Joe’s life, though. He’s big into weightlifting—another measurement of personal accountability. “You get out what you put in,” he says. And he’ll probably join a men’s rec basketball league or something when he gets settled in Iowa.

What he’s really looking forward to is one day opening his own chiropractic practice and incorporating that with a gym, working and training with athletes. “I think I’m always going to have that connection with athletes throughout my whole life,” he says. “That’s my dream job. If I can do that for the rest of my life, that’d be awesome.”