By Brandyn Campbell, Player Engagement Insider
Peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing. It’s what led, in part, to the start of Kevin Brennan’s football career in the fifth grade. It’s a decision he’s glad he made, and has significantly impacted the course of his life.
The 5’11, 190 lb safety and running back for Don Bosco Prep (NJ) loves the thrill he gets from playing the game, a sport he describes with one word: “amazing.” His roles on both sides of the ball speak to Brennan’s athleticism and agility. To keep his skills sharp, he runs track in the spring to work on getting faster and staying in peak shape for football. Brennan has earned a reputation as a playmaker, a role he’s worked hard to achieve.
In addition to the fun of the sport, Brennan loves football because of the greater life lessons it teaches, such as team work and leadership development. For high school stars who have received national notice such as Brennan, football also, “opens opportunities for me to go to college and get an excellent education,” he said.
Brennan will have his pick of prestigious colleges to attend based on his academic performance alone. His 3.96 GPA was earned with the added challenge of taking a full load of honors classes. Maintaining such high performance in the classroom is an achievement of which Brennan is extremely proud, as it represents continual hard work and sacrifice.
His success in the classroom is all the more astonishing when you consider this: Brennan has an adult-sized commute to and from school each morning. The long hours of practice combined with school are padded on both sides of the day with an hour-long commute in the mornings and evenings. With the notorious Northern New Jersey traffic, Brennan sometimes doesn’t arrive home until nine at night. “It was a big decision to go here because it’s so far away,” Brennan said.
Brennan’s schedule doesn’t allow for much spare time, so he maximizes every moment available to him. He makes sure to know his commitments in order to prioritize his work and projects using any free time available to him. Brennan does his best to balance his time between sports, academics, and family, and leaves time to socialize for the weekends.
The concepts applied to achieve success in the classroom are similar to those that have led to his accomplishments on the field for Brennan. “You have to go out every single day and get better at everything you do,” he said. “If you want to see results, you have to work for them.”
While some would describe Brennan as a “quiet kid,” he has nonetheless made an impact on his peers with his leadership. “I lead more by example,” he said. “In everything I do, I go all out, with every workout and every practice.”
Brennan’s is proud to have been named team captain, the single sophomore along with three seniors given the distinction. “I was thrilled when they told me,” Brennan said. He knows that his teammates are looking up to him.
When asked why he believes he was selected to be a captain, Brennan is unsure of the specific factors. He feels that his persistent diligence helped earn the respect of his coaches and peers. “It’s not just the stats and success of freshman year--I don’t think it had anything to do with that, Brennan said. “It’s just going to work every day, doing the right things and working for one goal.”
When it all seems to get a bit overwhelming, Brennan thinks about all he is working towards. “I think about my ultimate goal when things get challenging, which is to go to the best academic and football college I can go to for free, and possibly earn the right to play in the NFL,” Brennan said.
Brennan also thinks about those who are with him as he drives towards his goal: His family and mentors. “They sacrifice so much for me,” Brennan said. “They believe in me, and they want to see me be successful. It would mean everything to me if I can give back to them and have them live my dream with me.”
There is no rest for the weary; at the height of the Blizzard of 2016, Brennan shares that he’s going to try to earn some money from helping neighbors with shoveling the foot and a half of snow that fell on the region. It’s indicative of the fact that regardless of the situation, Brennan is ready to put in hard work. While not an example of his on-the-field prowess, it’s the quiet determination and willingness to put in effort in every aspect of his life that speaks volumes about him as a person, student-athlete, and player. And it is for these reasons that he sits as the sole underclassman among the captains of his team.