In a day when people talk far more than they act, it is refreshing to see someone who is the other way around. Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying, “Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying”. It seems as if our world has been flipped on its head, and those who are noticed the most are the ones who scream the loudest- no matter what they are saying. What about those who say very little? That is almost a throwback way of thinking. A line of thinking that harkens back to the days of “The Greatest Generation”. Those men and women who just did their job to the best of their ability, and let their work speak for itself. This week’s Warehouse 3Nineteen Student Athlete of the Week, Eli DeJesus, lets his work speak for itself. He does not brag or boast, or make a big deal about his own abilities and talents. He just goes about his work with class, dignity, and pride, and shows up every day with the same mentality- to earn the respect of his teammates, coaches, and opponents.
Eli is the son of Tammy and Richard DeJesus. He is a four year letterman on the Viking football team, where he plays Linebacker. He also played baseball as a Freshman, and is contemplating competing in throwing events this Spring on the track team. He carries a 3.04 GPA, and his favorite academic subject in school is history. When contemplating his future career, he looks to major in Nursing while in College. Eli’s short term goal is to play football in college and more than likely will pursue that goal at Wheaton College in Illinois. His long term goal is to become a pediatric nurse and come back home to work in the Birmingham area.
Many people credit coaches with saving students lives, for many reasons, but for Eli, this cliché became reality to him. He says his favorite memory in high school actually occurred this summer when “Coach Brunner and Coach Matthews saved me from drowning on the Senior rafting trip on the Ocoee River”. I’ll bet Coach Brunner and Coach Matthews will never forget this either. When thinking about what he will miss most about being a Viking, Eli doesn’t hesitate one bit when he says, “playing on Friday nights, and feeling the butterflies in my stomach before kickoff”. He adds, “I’ve heard playing in college isn’t even the same. It’s just a different feeling”.
(Eli, pictured far right with fellow Seniors Jeremiah Hammond and Ethan Walker)
It is difficult to measure someone’s impact until they are gone, but Eli’s is easy to see, not only on the field, but in the locker room. He is a thermostat for our team. He controls the environment in the locker room. He, along with a couple of other Seniors, are the leaders of our football team. This role is not something that can be given, it must be earned. Eli has admitted that over his career, he has had players call him from neighboring high schools to try to get him to transfer. He has chosen to stay every time. Not because he owed anything to anyone, but he wanted to finish what he started. He dreamed of being a Viking, and he has represented us well. When he hangs up his pads in the field house for the last time, he can do it with pride. He did not take the easy out like so many student athletes do today. He leads by example. He saw it at his team, and he was not willing to desert it. Because of that, his teammates respect him.
When asked what advice he would give to younger student athletes, the mature athlete that I have seen develop into a man answered, “It is going to end one day. Play every play like it’s your last. No matter what sport you play”. When talking with Eli, it seems like he is looking back in his mind and recounts every single sprint, every tackle drill, and every rep on the bench. This is a young man that has done them all at 100%. He has relished his time as a high school athlete. It has meant something to him. He is better because of it, and he sees the things that it has taught him and what it can teach others, fully understanding that it is gone in the blink of an eye.
When talking about what teachers have impacted his life the most, Eli mentions two coaches, and talks about a lesson that each has taught him, and how he will take those lessons with him when he walks the halls of Jasper High School for the final time. Coach Greg Tinker gave him the advice to read a Psalm a day when he was a middle school student. He started that as an 8th grader, and continues that practice today. He said that advice has changed his life. Another coach who has greatly impacted Eli’s life is Coach Ryan Hall. Coach Hall told him the story of the “Praying Hands”, a story that dates back to the early 16th century about Albrecht and Albert Durer. In the story, Albert went to the mines to work to support Albrecht as he attended art school. After Albrecht finished school, he would return the favor for Albert. When Albrecht finally finished school, Albert’s hands were too mangled from working in the mines to attend art school. Albrecht never forgot what Albert did for him, and he made the image of the his brother’s hands to honor the sacrifice that he made for him. Eli said this story taught him the meaning of sacrificing for others.
Eli would like to thank his parents for their constant support, and for always being there for him. His teammates and coaches throughout the years are also very important to him, and he remembers each of them fondly.
We would like to thank Eli for being a leader, both on the field and in the classroom. He has truly had an immense impact on Jasper High School and the community of Jasper. We would also like to thank Warehouse 3Nineteen for helping us honor Eli and the impact that he has made on those he’s come in contact with. Go by and see our good friends at Warehouse. Tell them how much you enjoy the articles.