AFI’s All-Pandemic Team: Safety – Tommy Kaczocha, Kuopio Steelers, Bialystok Lowlanders

The AFI All-Pandemic Team would not seem complete without defensive back Tommy Kaczocha being on the list and in another unanimous decision, the selection committee agreed.

He was a defensive key for the Kuopio Steelers in their championship season in Finland’s Maple League and he was an important factor for the Bialystok Lowlanders in reaching the Polish title game.

The 23 year old 5’11”, 180 pound Kaczocha, the son of Polish immigrants, from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, kept proving the doubters wrong as a Div. III defensive back taking on and neutralizing some of the best receivers in Europe game after game. He finished the season in Finland with 14.5 tackles and three interceptions in five games and in Poland had a knack for forcing quarterbacks to throw away from him.

Kaczocha’s trademark was his infectious enthusiasm and fiery play and according to his coaches, it rubbed off.

Kuopio head coach Pekka Utriainen:

“Tommy has energy to share. He brings fire and positivity to every game, practice and meeting that is then matched by his aggressive play on the field. A competitor who plays much bigger than his stature.”

Lowlanders head coach John Booker echoes almost the same thoughts:

“Tommy is a natural leader of men and doesn’t have to try to do it. His energy and work ethic spread through our team effortlessly. I believe his personality is such a positive that his athleticism often gets overlooked. Tommy is an elite defender and as we discovered he is also an elite WR. After 2 weeks of practice on offense he not only learned the offense but put up three touchdowns in the first half of a playoff game. The last touchdown was a jump ball that Tommy went up to get over a defender who was taller than him. He’s a dog!”

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