Often mistaken for Thor, defensive end Chase Winovich not only stands out because of his luscious hair and big build, but for his incredible performance as a first-year player on the New England Patriots. Far more than just a football player, Winovich made his rookie year one to remember. Despite being a busy athlete, he took the time to talk to BHS Insight about himself and his football career.
Winovich, 24, grew up playing football at Thomas Jefferson High School in his hometown of Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania. He then played football at the University of Michigan from 2015 to 2018, receiving multiple recognitions that reflected his talent for the sport. Winovich was then drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft.
“When I was drafted, that whole scene is still just so special to me. From that phone call to celebrating with my closest family and friends, it is still so remarkable,” he said.
During the season, Winovich said a normal day begins with a 5:15 a.m. wake up, followed by yoga and meditation, footwork and handwork, meetings, practice, film and workouts. Having a full schedule can be overwhelming, but Winovich’s older brother, Peter, his biggest inspiration throughout his life, keeps him in a good mindset during the longest days.
“He paved the way for me playing football in college while still focusing on his academics. Anything he does, he goes after 100 percent and that’s something that has always inspired me in all aspects of my life,” said Winovich.
A football player himself, BHS senior Colby Burke has been impacted by Winovich. “Chase plays the same position as me, so I’m always watching his moves and trying to translate them to my own game. His pass rush definitely contributed to the Patriots having the best pass defense in the NFL.” Burke plans to play football in college, and Winovich has been a figure who has inspired the way he plays the game.
The schedule was a big change, but Winovich said when joining the NFL, getting used to living by himself “was the biggest adjustment and the most unexpected one. I lived with teammates all throughout college and no one ever really tells you how lonely your rookie year can be.”
Though Winovich has been in the NFL for a year, he said he can’t point to one thing that has dramatically changed his personality since being drafted for the Patriots. He said his “entire existence just feels different now.”
Winovich’s girlfriend and BHS alumni Megan Dombrowski said that despite him being a professional football player, “he is still a normal guy. He basically lives at Chipotle, and loves movies and being with his friends.”
Winovich also touched on what it was like playing against athletes he once was watching on TV, “It’s been a really weird yet cool experience because not only are some of these guys the largest humans you’ve ever seen, but they’re so well respected and proven against some of the best players in the league at my position. I embrace those challengers eagerly.”
Winovich said his best memory of his first year on the Patriots was scoring his first touchdown since high school. “I tried throwing the ball all the way back to my mom at home, but I fell a little short.”
Although he had many personal victories this past season, Winovich said “putting the team first and understanding how your role fits into the bigger picture” is the most important thing to keep in mind, as a team victory is always the goal ahead of personal successes.
Having become a Patriot, the experience has given Winovich the opportunity to give back to his community. During the holidays, Winovich was able to pay off his entire hometown’s student lunch debt.
Though he is now an NFL player, Winovich was once in the shoes of a high schooler with big dreams. Winovich had this message for all athletes, “Whatever you put your mind to, that’s what will develop. Your mind is a weapon; keep it loaded. It just takes time to become the best. So, there’s no time to waste, get to work!”