Marty Mjelleli grew up appreciating the value of hard work. And more than once in his adult life, he’s been recognized in part because he took those lessons to heart.
Mjelleli, a Faribault native who went to Shattuck-St. Mary’s and played hockey at St. Cloud State University, was named SCSU’s 2016 Graduate of the Last Decade Award winner this year. Mjelleli, a 2008 St. Cloud State graduate, was selected by the St. Cloud State University Alumni Association for “his outstanding achievement in his career, and his service to the university and his community,” according to a release by the school.
“I was extremely humbled, because there’s 15,000 students that go to St. Cloud State,” Mjelleli said. “It’s a state institution, so there’s a lot of alums that are in the area, so I was extremely humbled and honored.”
He was humbled enough that he was quite surprised to get the call.
“Honestly, I had to make sure one of my friends weren’t messing with me a little bit,” Mjelleli joked.
The award was given during Fall Celebrate in mid-September, and Mjelli had family in attendance for the event.
Mjelleli graduated with a double major in business marketing and communication studies. While playing for coach Bob Motzko and the Huskies, he was a three-time WCHA All-Academic team member and was a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior Class All-American Award.
Besides that, the Huskies went to the WCHA Final Five three times and the NCAA tournament twice while Mjelleli was on the team.
Mjelleli credited all the people who helped him along the way — his parents, coaches, teachers and professors, both at SSM and at SCSU.
“I knew that somebody had believed in me,” he said. “Touching on what I said about Shattuck or people who help you along the way, you never want to let those people down. So therefore, you maximize everything you do. My dad told me a long time ago, a quote he stole from Vince Lombardi, never be content.”
It’s been a busy two years for Mjelleli on the recognition front, as in April of 2015, he was inducted into the United States Hockey League’s Des Moines Buccaneers Hall of Fame. Mjelleli played for the Bucs in juniors and has coached and scouted for the franchise. He also spent time playing hockey in the minor leagues and Europe after graduating.
So the last couple of calendar years have been humbling.
“Yeah, it was. They’re obviously two different things,” Mjelleli said of the GOLD award and hall of fame. “But at the same time, it kind of goes back to what you want to make of it. Just like that work ethic, people are looking at you. How do you want to be remembered? I never asked for any of these things.”
Whether it’s been for athletics, academics or service, Mjelleli — and his brother, Mario as well — both have earned recognition. And the simplest way to boil down why Mjelleli’s had success is simple: work ethic, which he saw from both his mother and father.
“He had two jobs to put us through Shattuck, and you see them dead tired, they just gave it their all, it’s contagious,” Mjelleli said. “So I think that really rubbed off on me and Mario.”