By Madeline Miller
University of Wisconsin, Madison Football co-captain Gabe Carimi.
Often described as the latest face of Jewish football, University of Wisconsin-Madison senior Gabe Carimi, at 6'7" and 327 lbs., has proven to be a force to be reckoned with both on and off the field.
Carimi is the co-captain of the Rose Bowl-bound Badgers, the recipient of the Outland Trophy for his stellar performance as an offensive lineman (one of only two Badgers to win this national trophy), and has most recently been named first-team All American. His academic record is as impressive as his athletic execution. A civil engineering major, Carimi has balanced his academic and athletic responsibilities with finesse. His athletic achievements have not detracted from his academic accomplishments, such as his being named Academic All-Big Ten for the past four years.
Carimi's incredible accomplishments to date have garnered comparisons to Louis Behr, UW's acclaimed Jewish basketball star, a UW Kenneth Sterling Day Prize recipient (oddly enough for displaying essential Christian worth as evidenced by moral character), and 1928 UW Hillel president.
Born in Lake Forest, IL, and raised in Madison, WI, Carimi and his family are active in Madison's Jewish community, and are members of Madison's Reform synagogue. When he is not at home, Judaism continues to play a central part in Carimi's life. He is no stranger to UW-Hillel, and was Hillel's special guest, along with fellow Jewish Badger Football player, kicker Alec Lerner, during the 2009 Dedication Brunch event in honor of the Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life.
In an interview with UW Hillel, Carimi emphasized that he does not view his Jewish identity as an obstacle in his life as a student athlete. His decision to fast on Yom Kippur each year, despite the fact that it often falls on game days, is noteworthy in that it demonstrates his ability to maintain his commitment to his faith and career.
Carimi's leadership, endurance, and dedication are an inspiration for up and coming Jewish athletes and football fans alike. As he prepares for the Rose Bowl, and training for the NFL draft â€” Carimi is an athlete we should keep our eyes on.
Carimi took some time out of his very busy schedule for a quick interview.
Q: People don't really associate Jews with football... did you have to overcome any stereotypes or preconceived notions to get to where you are today?
A: There aren't many Jews that are similar to me in build, but I think people generally consider my physical stature before thinking about my religious affiliation.
Q: Although the team is in the midst of finals, the players are making an effort to remain focused during preparations for the game. For many players, having the chance to play in the Rose Bowl is a dream come true. Wisconsin residents fondly recall the Badgers' 1994, 1999, and 2000 Rose Bowl victories, and many players cite these triumphs as their reason for joining the program. What are you doing to prepare yourself for the Rose Bowl?
A: We have intensive practices and study footage regularly. We prepare one day at a time and focus on improving daily.
Q: What are your plans after the Rose Bowl?
A: I plan to train for the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine, and then look forward to entering the NFL draft. I also look forward to completing my senior capstone design project, and receiving my degree in Engineering.
Q: What is your favorite Jewish holiday and food?
A: Passover is definitely my favorite holiday. But potato latkes are my favorite Jewish food next to a nice reuben sandwich!
Madeleine Miller is a member of the UW Madison class of 2012.