Listen to interview here http://wvmetronews.com/2017/07/17/star-athlete-can-now-add-essayist-to-his-winning-skills/
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — As the star receiver for Martinsburg’s Bulldogs, Isaac Brown scored 17 touchdowns in a variety of ways last year.
Now he can also do a touchdown dance for his winning essay.
Brown, who is entering his senior year, had already been named the 2016 Gatorade West Virginia High School Player of the Year, which came with $1,000 as a charitable gift for the youth sports organization of his choosing.
Brown was then notified that an essay he wrote to earn an opportunity for an additional $10,000 was one of only 12 winners across the United States. He’ll be giving the full $11,000 to the Eastern Panhandle Youth Football League, where he started playing as a youngster.
His short essay was about how the youth football organization shaped his life.
“I just talked about how they gave me something to look forward to during school and helped me keep my grades up. My parents said if we didn’t have above a 3.0 we couldn’t play. It was a good motivator to keep our grades up. I just kept playing and the more I loved the game the more I played. This is where I am today because of it.”
“Not as much, but I felt that if I did well on the essay I could really help the community with all the kids and maybe help them like youth football helped me,” said Brown, who just turned 17 this past Sunday.
He recalled being somewhat timid when he first started in the youth league.
“When I first started, I was a little shy about it. I wanted to play because my brothers played, and I saw them playing and having fun. I didn’t like all the running at all. They never really talked about that; I’d only seen games, not practices. As the years went on, I just loved it more and more.”
Those early impressions gave him plenty of material for his essay. He also used his mother as a sounding board.
“She gave me some ideas to talk about. She helped me with grammar and she just proofread it for me,” Brown said.
Brown was right up against deadline when he sat down to write. And, since Brown is a laser on the football field but not the speediest typist, his mother pounded the keyboard on his behalf.
“We had to do the essay in, like, three days so I believe we were on the third day,” he said, “so she typed it so we could send it to them.”
The Eastern Panhandle Youth Football League already made plans to use the initial $1,000 for scholarships. It costs $100 to play in the league, so that would cover the cost of 10 young players who might not otherwise be able to participate.
The additional $10,000 will help build a pavilion — named for Brown — that may be used for players to have team meetings, eat, cool off or just hang out, said Doug Arndt, commissioner of the youth league.
The Gatorade award goes out annually to honor athletes in 12 sports in each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. It’s an elite group.
The award honors athletes both for their sports performance, academic achievement and exemplary character. Brown has a 3.83 grade point average and is active at his family’s church, All Nations Outreach Center in Martinsburg.
Oh, yeah, and he was also a star for Martinsburg’s football team, which went 14-0 and won West Virginia’s AAA championship last year. Brown finished that game with 90 yards on six catches and that touchdown.
He won’t be back for Martinsburg next year, though. He’s transferring to nearby Millbrook High School in Winchester, Virginia, where he expects to play quarterback, return kicks and punts and play defensive back or free safety.
It’ll be his senior season, and he’s looking ahead to college. Although he made a visit to West Virginia University, he says his only offer so far has been to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
If he needs a boost of confidence, he can look back on his early years as a pee wee player, the inspiration for his essay.
“I never thought I was good enough,” Brown said Monday during an appearance on “Panhandle Live” on WEPM in Martinsburg. “That’s how you keep going and getting better and better.”