This story originally appeared in Cal's Kickoff Game Progam on Sept. 1, 2007.
By Chris DeConna, Cal Media Relations
Just a handful of players remain in the Big Game Room, conversing, watching a replay of an NFL game on the flat screen televisions and eating what's left from lunch in the catered food trays. Searching for a bit more lunch, senior Greg Van Hoesen frowns at the slim selection of choices left behind by 105 hungry footballers - pasta ... ceasar salad ... nachos. The linebacker opts to construct a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese on a wheat bun and toasted. His reaction when he sits down makes it obvious that he isn't too thrilled about his latest snack. But he knows it's better than the ever popular nachos. "Man," he replies. "I'm just trying to eat healthy."
Although subtle in nature, it is a moment like this which Van Hoesen may look back on and chalk up as another unique memory in a five-year career filled with hundreds of lasting memories. The Saratoga, Calif., product has learned to appreciate all of his experiences as a member of the Golden Bears - even training camp leftovers.
Playing his final season in a Golden Bear uniform, Van Hoesen has a lot to be proud of in his time in Berkeley. He joined the Bears in 2003 and redshirted that year. The following season, Van Hoesen contributed six tackles and a blocked punt, before turning in a solid sophomore season, earning three starts in 10 total games. Last season, he earned second-team all-conference academic honors, while playing in all 13 games, registering 23 tackles (nine solo), including a sack at Oregon State. This season should not be any different, as Van Hoesen figures to be an important piece in a talent-laden linebacker corps.
Reflecting on his time as a Cal Bear becomes bittersweet for Van Hoesen. "It's been an area of my life where I've learned the most about myself and about people," he said. "I'm a little bit sad that it's going to end, because I have this feeling that the group of guys I'm around on a daily basis - players and coaches - that I'm not ever going to find that (camaraderie) again. I've always tried to take advantage of the opportunities I get to be around these guys - I try to just soak it all in."
"I just want to go out and play every game as hard as I can. I'll be there whenever I'm called upon to help my teammates make a play."
Another defining quality which Van Hoesen possesses is his willingness to put the team's needs first, while still displaying an intense eagerness to compete at a high level in both practice and in the game. There are plenty of moments in which Van Hoesen can draw upon that personifies these particular qualities. "It's funny because in retrospect, the funniest stories or best moments are often the worst when you are in them," he said. "I think back to my freshman year when I redshirted. It was really hard because I wasn't able to play in the games. But then I remember scoring my first touchdown here (a 16-yard interception at Washington State in 2005). That was a lot of fun, because I had never scored before - it was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. To do something like that and contribute is something I will always remember and take with me."
While he has hopes of playing in the NFL someday, Van Hoesen is quick to point out that one should not count the chickens before they hatch. "I just want to go out and play every game as hard as I can," said Van Hoesen. "I'll be there whenever I'm called upon to help my teammates make a play."
As a fine arts major, Van Hoesen takes pride in balancing a life for himself off the field. "What I try to do is balance my life off the field with my life on it," he said. "Football is really intense and really hard. Off the field I try to slow it down, take a step back and relax. I enjoy being with my girlfriend - she provides the right amount of balance in my life."
When asked how he would like to be remembered during his time at Cal, Van Hoesen replied, "I would like to be remembered as a hard worker, a good teammate and a good friend."
With his commitment to the program and his personal growth, that shouldn't be a problem.