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Strength, on and off the field

Sarah Shatel, Web Editor

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Walking into my interview, I truly did not know what to expect. I have known Elliott Brown for about four years now, but certain things still surprise me about him to this day. He insisted we meet at Panda Express, so I gladly agreed. I arrive and he is patiently waiting for me. We both order our chinese food, and while he is paying I go to grab a fork. When I come back, my meal has been paid. A school newspaper interview turned into a kind gesture by one of my longtime friends.

Junior Elliott Brown, has recently become the starting quarterback for the boys varsity football team. With that comes a ton of responsibility. The good and the bad that come with that position can mold any young teenage boy into a stereotype people expect. However, Elliott doesn´t seem to follow any of those.

¨In middle school I didn´t even want to play quarterback. I tried to hide in the back (during practice) because I wanted to play receiver and I thought I would be best at it,¨ Elliott said.

In the middle of a practice, his middle school coach asked Brown to throw a ball back to him. Although it was not a very long distance, Elliott´s coach was still impressed. Ever since, Elliott has been training as a quarterback. However, even before middle school, Elliott was put into tackle football by the age of seven. His head coach, his dad Lance Brown, placed him into a league with boys one or two years older than him.

¨We (Lance and his wife Sara) were going to throw him into as many sports as he could play and naturally see which ones he fell in love with and which ones he could do without,¨ Lance said.

Football seemed to stick. As one can imagine, Lance has a very extensive history with football. He played football in highschool and went to college to play football for Nebraska. He was part of three National Championship teams, played under Coach Osborne, and had Coach Frost as his quarterback for two years.

¨(There were) many life lessons during those years,¨ Lance said. ¨The one that Elliott has heard the most is being a good person on and off the field will affect more lives than anything you will do on the field.¨

Role model is an understatement when it comes to describing the way Elliott views his dad. Lance shows pride in Elliott´s achievements in football everyday, although, the pride goes deeper than that.

¨He thinks it’s cool that I’m doing well in football but I think that he supports me more on the fact of giving me life characteristics to help me after football, because football cannot last forever,¨ Elliott said.

Having a coach and a father all in one affects Elliott´s life on a day to day basis. After each game, Elliott and his dad watch the film, break it down play by play, grade each play, and then the both of them point out what needs to be fixed.

¨He always texts me little tips throughout the day: not only about football but also about school and life in general. (Lance affects) not only the way I play, why I play, but how I play as well,¨ Elliott said.

Elliott’s strong support system shapes the type of person and player he is. Every game his mom Sara, dad, and little sister EJ can be spotted cheering him on. Sometimes even distant members like grandparents will come to support Elliott.

¨One of the main reasons why I play is because I love making my family proud and everything they have given me. They have sacrificed to let me play. My family is amazing. Not even the family that I live with, but everywhere and everyone. My family is crazy, and they support me so much it’s unbelievable. Even my little sister. You won’t see it in her, but she tells me a lot how cool she thinks it is for me to be doing some of the things that I do, ¨ Elliott said.

Elliott’s mom is a huge supporter as well, whether it is making his meals for the day or cheering him on from the sidelines.

Now, Elliott has a brand new supporter. In May 2017, Elliott´s life changed forever. Family friends of the Browns, the Blues, had a daughter and grandmother get into a car accident. McKinley Blue, age 4 at the time, was seriously injured in the accident.

¨We didn’t know if she was going to make it for the first couple of days. All we could do is pray. We’ve always been close with them, the accident just brought us that much closer,¨ Elliott said. ¨Jessica (McKinley´s mom) is the best person I’ve ever met. I think she might be one of my biggest supporters-not in football but just in life in general. I love her to death.¨

After a few surgeries and weeks and weeks of recovery, Mckinley began to heal through physical therapy.

¨It didn’t look good at first, but it just kept on getting better and better and better and now it’s just amazing. McKinley is a huge impact on why I play and how I play. Knowing what she has been through, it puts me in a realization that everyday can be my last day,¨ Elliott said.

Through part of her recovery, McKinley had to practice mobilizing her right hand again. Being a little girl, there was no better way than to practice hand movements by painting nails. Now, Elliott´s fingernails have a new polish on them weekly.

¨She (McKinley) asked to paint my nails when we were hanging out one day, and what am I going to do-say no to her after everything she’s been through? So I let her, and she loved it and she had so much fun. So then she asked the next week to do it again, and ever since then it’s been sort of a ritual. It’s a good luck charm but it also helps her with her therapy,¨ Elliott said.

After seeing McKinley´s successful recovery, Elliott became very inspired. He now aspires to be a physical therapist when he gets older.

¨It (the accident) definitely took an effect on me. Even though I wasn’t physically affected, it really made me take a double-take at who I was and what I wanted to do,¨ Elliott said.

Colorful nail polish isn´t the only thing to help Elliott ensure his best performance. He has several rituals like laying out his uniform the night before, eating Subway, wearing his gold Beats, and dressing in his ¨Hollywood sweatshirt¨. Some things Elliott does, particularly before each game, catch the eyes of many students and parents in the crowd. He is always the last one to run out onto the field.

¨A lot of people have noticed that, but honestly I don’t really have a solid reason. My dad said when he was in college, he was always the last one out too. I think it’s because before games I get so mentally locked in and I barely notice it,¨ Elliott said.

After leaving the huddle in the middle of the field, Elliott runs to the far end zone and kneels with his head down to pray.

¨I have always prayed before games. That’s the moment when I lock in and focus up. I just talk to God and thank him and ask him for safety and things like that. It’s almost like finding peace before the game,¨ Elliott said.

As his actions draw attention to the people in the stands watching the game, it also brings out opinions over these actions.

¨I have had people come up to me and ask me if (the actions) were part of self recognition as if I want you to look at me and I’ve always told him them no,¨ Elliott said.

Elliott recognizes what a person sees is not what they get. The expectation of his appearance is never met.

¨You see a blond haired, blue eyed kid with bright pink shorts halfway up his thighs, with a bunch of bracelets on wearing a Louis Vuitton backpack: everyone has a first initial thought. I’m perfectly fine with that,¨ Elliott said. ¨ As long as I know what I’m doing with my life and as long as my family knows, that’s all I care about.¨

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Strength, on and off the field