Athletes Can Compete in Class, Too

Ryan Cowen, Writer

It may seem difficult to juggle football and school at the same time, but senior football wide receiver Spencer Leadbetter does it with ease. But, one may be his stronger suit. 

Leadbetter and the Rambler football team had an outstanding season. The boys held a record of 13-1, and finished as 8A Illinois State Champions. With lots of skill and determination, the dream that started in June became reality in November. 

Leadbetter played an enormous role in the team’s success this season. He finished the season with 44 receptions, 633 yards, and eight touchdowns. In fact, his six receptions in the championship game put the Ramblers in scoring range. Eventually, they punched in a touchdown with the help of their positioning. 

Leadbetter and the football team lost in last year’s semifinal game, and he was more than determined to get redemption his senior year. 

His effort did not go unnoticed. 

“He was a determined guy, very hardworking. Yeah, he balled out all year,” said senior quarterback and captain, Jake Stearney. “For sure he was big on studying the game. He took a lot of notes during film sessions and I know he was watching all the time, just trying to get better.” 

Leadbetter knew exactly what he needed to do when it came to preparing for games. He studied hours of film on himself. Not only that, but he was dedicated to scouting his opponents, seeing what moves to make and when to use them. 

Being a student-athlete, academics and schoolwork should come first. Even when playing competitive sports, school is supposed to be more important. 

But when fighting for a state championship, that may not always be the case. 

“In general, Spencer does not work as hard in the classroom,” said English teacher Jayme Parker. Parker has had Leadbetter as a student for two years in a row now, and knows all about his work ethic in class. “He’s definitely a character,” said Parker. 

However, Leadbetter learned how to lead a group from his four years of Loyola football. “Spencer’s really good for group morale,” said Parker.

While he may not have been a captain, he was a leader. The younger players always looked up to Spencer to better themselves. “I loved watching Lead. He was great at what he did so I try to do the same things he did,” said junior Charlie Skelly. 

“If you have a test coming up, he’s focused,” said Parker. Leadbetter knows when to kick into a serious mode. While he may come off as a jokester at times, Leadbetter can have the same attitude that he did as a football player. 

It seems obvious that he does not have the same mentality towards his grades as he did for his football career. But deep down, there is definitely some light for his work ethic in the classroom. 

Whether it is making a one-handed catch to secure a state championship, or helping a class focus for a test, Leadbetter knows how to shine.