Hadachek grows in role with Panthers

After defeating South Dakota State to advance to the FCS quarterfinals, Brock Hadachek knew it was time to sing the Panther fight song with the Panther faithful. Photo taken by Cayla Fulcher.

Former Union standout Brock Hadachek and the UNI Panthers football program had a lot to celebrate this fall season. A 10-5 record, their first double-digit record since 2011. Three wins over ranked opponents. A near-upset at ranked Iowa State to start off 2019. All the while, the redshirt sophomore carved out a role for himself in UNI’s success.

“I was excited for this season because I knew this was an opportunity and went to work,” Hadachek said. “Football is important to me and has been instilled in my family. I’m blessed because not everyone gets the chance to play at this level.”

Hadachek had redshirted his first year in Cedar Falls to continue to gain weight and strength, all the while growing accustomed to Coach Mark Farley’s system at UNI that has accomplished 150+ wins, seven Missouri Valley Football Conference titles and 12 playoff berths.

“I had a few other options, but I visited UNI twice and that second time I just had a feeling that’s where God wanted me to be,” Hadachek said. “I played mainly tight end last season, then moved to linebacker to start this season.

By the middle of the 2019 season, the Panthers were thin at tight end with at least four players injured. Hadachek went to coach Farley to ask if he could move to the position if it would benefit the team, a trait he credits learning from his high school coach and uncle, Joe Hadachek.

“I felt it would be best for the team and he luckily agreed,” Hadachek said. “My Uncle Joe instilled in his teams and myself the ‘team first mentality.’ I wanted to help my team any way I can and know I am capable of moving positions.”

The Dysart native was welcomed by Ryan Mahaffey, the Panthers offensive coordinator, a man no stranger to the UNI Dome. Mahaffey had played college for UNI and previously been on staff for the Panthers. When began working with Hadachek, he noted the athlete’s “hard-working, enthusiastic attitude and willingness to work.”

“He’s diligent with his preparation, coachable and tough,” Mahaffey said. “Brock brings a lot of the intangibles you want to see in a football player. Brock carved out a nice role for himself over the course over this season. He’s physical, has good size for the position and a good football IQ. Most of all, he wanted to bring some tenacity to the position.”

Though Hadachek’s number might not stick out on the stat sheet (five tackles for loss in 2019), his blocking at tight end contributed to UNI’s offensive scheme as the Panthers put together a postseason run as they defeated the University of San Diego and got back at South Dakota State for an earlier loss in the regular season. In the quarterfinals against James Madison, Hadachek had a reception for 10 years. Hadachek remarked it was special season for the team and himself.

“After the playoff selection and we didn’t get a seed, no one complained and we came together,” Hadachek said. “We’re returning a lot of guys next season, so there’s a lot to look forward to next year. There’s a lot to be excited about.”

Mahaffey believes that Hadachek is “more than capable” of being a part of next year’s success as well if he continues to hit the weight room and improves his knowledge of the offense during the offseason.

“I feel Brock just need to double down on everything he’s already done to be successful,” Mahaffey said. “He’ll continue to work hard, get bigger and stay the course. I feel it says a lot that he was patient and made sure he was prepared for this opportunity. He has a great foundation to build off of going forward.”

From playing in the backyard with his brother and cousins growing up to playing for the Union Knights to eventually reaching the UNI Dome as a Panther, Hadachek knows he has an opportunity not every athlete gets a chance to accomplish.

“I’d attribute my place at UNI to my Uncle Joe, my entire family, the rest of the high school coaching staff, my teachers, and my former teammates,” Hadachek said. “As far as where I am now, I’d credit my UNI coaches, trainers, teammates, and family for playing a major role in my life. That being said, none of this would be possible without God.”

UNI’s 2020 season will kick off at the University of Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 5.