Mike Graczyk was already on the cusp of a life-changing moment when he got a call from his old college soccer coach.
Come home, University of New Mexico men’s coach Jeremy Fishbein advised him.
And so it is today that Graczyk, a goalkeeper on UNM’s 2005 College Cup team, has joined Fishbein’s coaching staff.
“A couple of days before my wedding, Fish gave me a call and told me about the opening,” says Graczyk, a La Cueva grad and Albuquerque native. “We talked about it for a while. I talked it over with my new wife. Prayed about it. I always had a heart to come back. The timing was right.”
His new bride, Sydney, has no ties to Albuquerque. She’s from Arkansas, and they met in Southern California, where Graczyk’s parents now live.
“We’re making wedding vows one day, then the next day we’re making a massive life decision,” Graczyk says.
They had a pretty good life at Stanford, where Graczyk was an assistant. But she must have sensed something in him about this opportunity.
“She’s awesome,” Graczyk says. “She understands the life of a coach. You can pick up and go at any moment.”
She may have gotten a hint in that his former Lobo teammate Jeff Rowland was the best man at their wedding.
Graczyk also replaces a former teammate, Brandon Moss, who is going into his family’s Albuquerque commercial moving business.
All three played on the UNM team that reached the 2005 College Cup final.
“We all loved soccer,” Graczyk says. “We were all passionate about it.”
Graczyk holds UNM’s career shutout record with 30, made 66 career appearances, had 44 wins and managed a goals against average of 0.68.
After a stint in Major League Soccer with Colorado, Dallas and San Jose, he took a job as an assistant at Harvard for Jamie Clark, a former Lobo aide. He’s been at Stanford the past three seasons, helping the Cardinal advance to the Sweet 16 in 2013, where it lost to Washington – where Clark now coaches with his assistant Rowland.
“I had an incredible experience at Stanford,” Graczyk says. “I learned a lot from (head coach) Jeremy Gunn. That’s been very special for me.”
But he is a Lobo.
“The most I’ve learned as a man and as a player came at the University of New Mexico,” Graczyk says.
Now he’s coaching alongside the man he once played for.
“What I know about Fish is that he very much cares about the people who are involved in his program, and cares about them deeply,” Graczyk says.
He says he will be “learning about the players, the environment, the staff, about which are the best ways I can help.”