Sept. 22, 2013
BOCA RATON, Fla. -
At the close of the 2011 football season, Florida Atlantic University named Carl Pelini as its head football coach. Pelini, just the second coach in the program's young history, began his work off the field. He started with a culture shift, a shift that would focus on learning, loyalty, love, laughter and leadership.
The Owls showed drastic improvement in 2012, the first season under Pelini's direction, despite also learning new schemes on both sides of the ball. The results were evident at season's end with a national rank improvement of more than 20 spots in scoring defense, punt returns, turnover margin (+35) and sacks allowed. A direct reflection of the efforts made towards individual accountability was in the area of penalties. The Owls improved from a 2011 national rank of 117 (68.17) in fewest penalty yards per game to No. 64 (51.15). As of September 10, 2013, FAU is ranked No. 9 nationally in fewest penalties per game, with an average of 2.5 per game.
Pelini bid the 2012 seniors, a group that he has publically thanked for helping begin the shift, farewell. With the program's foundations set by that class, Pelini looked to the emerging leaders. One such person is senior captain Andrew Stryffeler, a three-year letter winner.
Stryffeler embodies everything that the Florida Atlantic's football team stresses. He hails from the state of North Carolina where he was raised by his parents, Harry and Laura Stryffeler. Harry, a member of the United State Navy Special Forces, and Laura, a captain who serves as a nurse in the Navy/Army, have raised four sons and have instilled the values of hard work and discipline.
"My parents definitely stressed the importance of grades and doing the right thing," Stryffeler said. "My brothers and I have grown up as friends and are always aware of how we represented our family. There was just more expected of the Stryffeler boys."
Each the Stryffeler boys have is graduated with honors from college with the exception of the youngest, Brian, who is playing his first season at Wingate this fall. The oldest two, Mike and Chris are currently working on post-graduate work while Andrew completed a degree in political science with a minor in Spanish from FAU in the spring of 2013. He will complete his senior season with the Owls while working on a second degree in criminal justice and recently sat for the LSAT in June.
Stryffeler attacks football much like his classwork - with the philosophy of "why be good if you can be great?"
That attitude drives Stryffeler, who posted a 3.927 grade point average upon the completion of his original degree and is a part of a defensive line that is on track to double its sack production in 2013. Playing in his home state of North Carolina, Stryffeler posted his most productive game of the young season with two tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Multiple degrees are evident of his quest for Learning. His parents have been examples of both Loyalty and Love. There is no better affirmation of his Leadership qualities than being voted by the team to serve as one of four captains. The Laughter comes from defensive line coach Matt Edwards, who finds a way to blend humor with an all-business atmosphere.