By Brandyn Campbell, Player Engagement Insider
To say that Brennan Armstrong keeps a busy schedule is a drastic understatement. It would be challenging enough if the Ohio native merely needed to balance his role as starting quarterback for the Shelby High School football team with the academic demands of being a high school student. Add basketball, student council, and work at the basketball tournament that his brother hosts to the mix and you wonder how it can all get on done. Then combine a serving of honors classes for good measure and you may feel like a failure with any New Year’s resolutions you’ve made.
Armstrong is used to facing challenges and finding solutions, and that quality is what has driven his success as one of the top student-athletes in Ohio.
The road to organized football began for Armstrong in fifth grade, when he was assigned the role of quarterback from the onset because he “had a good arm.” He soon realized that it was a good spot to have, not only because he enjoyed playing the position, but also because of the leadership and increase in possible academic opportunities the highly visible role entails. Armstrong continued to play basketball and travel baseball in addition to his time on the football field. However, early in his high school career he realized that he wanted to make a change.
“Just last year I decided not to do travel baseball,” Armstrong said of the sport his father coached him in for so many years. “I wanted to focus on camps with football, and to be good a good freshman quarterback.”
His mission was accomplished in his pursuit of having a strong freshman year.
As a freshman in 2014, the 6’2,188 lb quarterback started all 10 varsity games. This past season, as a sophomore, he made the All Ohio second team. In just one and a half years, Armstrong has become such a force in high school football that he is garnering national attention. But he isn’t letting the attention go to his head.
How does Armstrong keep his significant athletic accomplishments in check? By not seeing them as goals realized, but instead constantly setting the bar higher. While he was honored at this year’s All Ohio honors, it’s not enough. His goal is to make First Team for both his junior and senior years.
Resting on his laurels is not enough. It’s how to surpass each accomplishment that has helped lead Armstrong to succeed on and off the field.
Armstrong knows that it’s a path he cannot walk alone. He gains strength from the unconditional love of his family, and names his coaches and teammates as integral supports in balancing his responsibilities and achievements as a student-athlete performing at the highest level, both on the field and in the classroom.
While science is his favorite subject, Armstrong cites the challenge of taking honors chemistry along with other advanced classes as one of the biggest difficulties of balancing his athletic and academic responsibilities. His key to success is strategic time management. “I have a 4 o’clock study hall, which really helps,” says Armstrong. “I try to get my homework done before school ends so that I can focus on practice after school and not worry about having to do other things after practice.
Armstrong believes in discipline and leading by example on the football field and basketball court, as well as other areas of his life. “Always push yourself and people will learn to follow and respect you,” Armstrong said. It’s a leadership philosophy that has been instilled by his coaches. He’s been voted team captain for the coming year, requiring him to be mindful of the example he is sets through the remainder of the school year and during the long offseason. Though his role as captain and on the team’s leadership council, his coaches have asked their athletes to reflect on the difference between authority and leadership, and why the latter is the most effective use of power. They’ve also taught Armstrong and his peers to have pride in everything they do, which he says requires exercising “personal responsibility and daily excellence.”
While a good deal of leadership comes from inner strength, all that’s entailed with working with fellow athletes. “I’ll say stuff if I have to,” Armstrong said. “I’m not afraid to talk to my team and teammates and hold each other accountable.”
The young quarterback’s desire to make All Ohio First Team is not a path he seeks for his own self-aggrandizement. He knows that it will challenge his teammates to perform at their highest levels, as well as encouraging the players to connect as a strong and talented unit. “A lot of the goal is with the whole football team,” said Armstrong. “They have to be on top of it.
As a quarterback, Armstrong is no stranger to being placed in tough positions that he must get himself out of. It is this sort of mental brawn that quickly separates those who make it and those who are crushed beneath the pressure of the quarterback position. So how does Armstrong keep his composure in tight spots? He tells himself what he already knows--that he can be successful. “I tell myself, ‘I’ve earned this,’” Armstrong said. “I need to be confident. I know I’ve worked hard, I know what I’m doing, and I know the plays. Sometimes you can over-think it. Just know what you’re made to do.”