Jan. 15, 2013
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Brian Ormiston
"Buscemi! Get over here!"
"Why does that kid stay out there so long?"
"Change it up Mike! We need fresh legs out there!"
Mike Buscemi heard this on a regular basis during his playing days in middle school. The youngster never wanted to find the bench, and went out of his way to avoid taking a breather. His desire to light up the scoreboard emulated his passion for competition. He craved action.
It was no wonder his roller hockey team struggled sometimes to make a full line change.
Hired in January to serve as UCF football's special teams coordinator and tight ends coach, Buscemi's roots have plenty of hockey in them.
"I was center and goalie. I liked center because I always liked playing hard and moving all around," said Buscemi, a 2006 graduate of UCF. "I really wasn't (a good goaltender), I was just the best at that time.
"I remember as a center, never wanting to come off when there were line changes. Whenever I knew a line change was coming up I would always try to skate away because I wanted to stay on, but once I would get close to the bench they'd yell, `Get off, get off,' and another guy would jump on. Once the next line change came I'd always try to get out there quickly. As a goalie though you obviously always remember the bad games and you don't remember a lot of the good ones."
Roller hockey was only one of several sports the Plantation, Fla., native participated in. Buscemi spent time in basketball, soccer, wrestling and baseball, and admits that besides football, baseball was his favorite. Soccer quickly went to the bottom of the list "because it was too much running for me." A middle infielder, catcher and right fielder, he was good enough for the travel teams but stopped playing in eighth grade so he could focus on football.
And that determination to succeed in a sport which produced players twice his size was developed when Buscemi curled up next to his father at 3-years old.
"My dad was a high school coach at Boyd Anderson and I remember hearing the 16 millimeter projector when he came home from a game on a Friday night and playing it at about 2 or 3 a.m.," Buscemi said with a smile. "And my first memory of football is me waking up to the 16 millimeter hearing it go back and forth with those loud sound effects. It woke me up and I'd go sit on his lap.
"This happened pretty much every Friday when he came home, and this was back when the wishbone was big in the late 1980s. He'd explain to me the triple option, the wishbone, how to run it and how to stop it. Ever since I was 3 I was on the sideline for all of his games."
Even though the Buscemis were a sports-enthused bunch, they always spent time together.
"When my dad was a coach, he always made sure he came home for dinner," Buscemi said. "We all sat down and ate dinner together. If we had already eaten before he got home, we would all sit down with him. And growing up in an Italian household, on Sundays dinner was always at 3:30. It was always a family dinner on Sunday. My mom would start cooking probably about 9 or 10 a.m. and it was a big meal. My favorites were her spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and chicken cutlet parmesan. As I got older I really enjoyed that a lot."
Getting Serious with Football, and His Studies
A coach in Broward County for more than 35 years, Ray Buscemi may have had a hungry son on his hands, but Mike also was one with lofty goals.
"When I was 7, my dad saw that I wasn't the best athlete in the world," Buscemi reflected. "He asked me, `What do you want to do when you get older?' I said, `I want to play Division I football.' So he replied, `If you want to do that you better learn how to long snap, son.'"
Standing at a skinny 6-foot-0, Buscemi took his dad's advice to heart. From that day forward, he worked on long snapping virtually non-stop when he was not on the rink, court, diamond, mat or pitch. When he started his high school career both as a snapper and linebacker at Western, he had a familiar face to learn from who served as its defensive coordinator: his father.
Under Ray's direction, Mike continued to progress since just like any job, it takes time to develop the skills one needs to accomplish the important, yet unappreciated, task of being a long snapper. That progression, however, was not just for the gridiron, but for the classroom as well. And the brains ran throughout the family.
"My parents are both retired, but my mom was a fifth-grade teacher and my dad was a PE teacher in high school," Buscemi said. "I have an older sister who is three years older than me and she went to the University of Miami on a golf scholarship. She actually had a full golf scholarship there, but only took half of the golf scholarship and took half of an academic scholarship. There is a lot more traveling in golf than football, so one year she took a calculus class, was only able to go to one class because of her matches and tournaments, and she still got an A."
When the younger brother found his way to UCF, things continued to get better.
"The No. 1 memory I have of UCF outside of football is graduating in 3.5 years. Graduating early meant something to me because both of my parents were teachers," Buscemi said. "I still remember going into my junior year, I had withdrawn from just two classes in my career. I withdrew from them because I was taking a heavy load. And in my junior year I only had to take two classes to graduate, so I took those two classes my junior year and I ended up graduating in 3.5 years. And then I worked on my master's and finished that up immediately after I took the graduate assistant position at UCF (in 2008)."
On the Water
Buscemi, whose claim to fishing fame is a 10-pound bass when he was 12-years old, also appreciated the moments at UCF when he did a little fishing, highlighted by one trip with former Knight Mike Lavoie.
"I like freshwater fishing. Growing up in Florida, we'd hit all the canals and ponds because they are all connected in some way. It was always catch-and-release. You don't want to eat a fish out of Florida freshwater," Buscemi joked. "Even playing football at UCF there are spots all around here. My college roommate lived right by a lake and we'd go out near his house, and we'd go by the lake by the softball field and all the lakes around campus.
"When I went deep-sea fishing, we'd catch sea bass on a charter boat and we kept those and cooked those up for Mike Lavoie. We did that for his bachelor party, and that was all we did. It was so much fun."
Always a Knight
With the shoulder pads on, Buscemi would play a key role in helping the Black and Gold post one of the biggest turnarounds college football had ever seen.
"The 0-11 year (in 2004) really sticks with you. That was my transfer year so I had to sit out, but I still talk to guys from that 0-11 year and we just share stories from it, and it's a bond that you can never get unless you've been through it," Buscemi remembered. "Then having the fourth-best turnaround in college football history, going to the Hawaii Bowl my second year and in 2007 winning the conference championship trophy are memories that will always be with me."
When his playing career wrapped up, Buscemi spent two seasons as an offensive graduate assistant at UCF, two as a quality control assistant at North Carolina from 2010-11 and one as a defensive graduate assistant at Pittsburgh in 2012. Now with Buscemi back in the Sunshine State, there are some fresh legs available for a little roller hockey if anyone is interested. But due to the headaches he will cause from trying to contain him, just make sure to bring the aspirin.