The Ultimate athlete is a student who trains hard and is committed to excellence, on and off the field.Their work ethic, dedication, determination, and mental toughness is what makes these athletes genuinely exceptional. Each week the Country Herald will support these incredible student-athletes in our series, The Ultimate. This week’s Ultimate is Derek Byrd, a senior at BBCHS.
Derek plays left tackle, and left guard for the Boilermakers. He has been invited to the Hawaii Tiki Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 1-6, 2020. When described by his football head coach, Mike Kohl, he said, “Derek Byrd is a tremendous young man! Derek has worked extremely hard in the weight room and the classroom, and through his work ethic has gotten many interests from several colleges and universities.”
“Derek always puts his teammates first. Derek is a front runner in our program when it comes to community service hours and helping people in our community! I am very excited to watch him compete in his senior season!”
When did you first get involved in sports?
[I first got involved in sports] when I was five. I started playing baseball, basketball, and football.
Derek, who are the heroes in your life?
I look up to my older brother, Aaron.
Why do you look up to your older brother, Aaron?
He is one person I can always count on for advice about anything. He is always supportive of me and has my back. I would love to follow in his football footsteps.
Derek, what are your future aspirations after high school?
I would love to go to college to play football. I plan to study to be a teacher and one day, hopefully, coach football.
Would you happen to know what college you would like to attend after high school?
I have not decided which college to go too, and I am still in the recruiting process.
Have you ever had any serious injuries?
Thankfully, I haven’t been injured.
What is your favorite sports team?
My favorite sports team is either the Indianapolis Colts (Kind of tragic right now) or the Pacers.
Do you find it difficult to balance sports with school work?
I don’t feel like it is. Coach Kohl gives us plenty of time for school work and puts an emphasis on being a student-athlete and not just an athlete.
If you could take a trip too anywhere in the world, where would it be?
New York, I would to go too a New York Mets game if I ever had the chance to make it
What is a typical day like in the life of Derek Byrd?
My typical day is starting school at 7 a.m. and ending at 2 p.m. We have practice usually from 3-6p.m. and after practice, I head home shower eat and do school work before 9 p.m.At around 9 p.m. each night I try and watch 10-15 minutes of practice film from the practice that day. I head to bed by 9:30 or 10 p.m.
Who is your favorite music artist?
My favorite artist is Post Malone
What would you say the role of a sports parent is?
[I would say] the role of the parent is to let the coaches do the coaching and let the refs do the officiating. Regardless of how your kids’ performance is, always cheer them on.
What would you say the role of the coach is?
The role of the coach is to teach the athlete the role of their position, and how to be a successful human being later in life.
How do you prepare for a game?
I have a game day lift at 7 a.m. and throughout the day any free time in class is watching practice film or game film of the other team. Once school is over, I am listening to music most of the time, and as it gets closer to game time I go on YouTube, and I am listening to Ray Lewis 52 cards speech. I think about it all the time, and I feel like it puts me in the zone to get done what I must get done on the field, and I am more focused on what I must do.
What are some words of encouragement you would give a younger athlete?
No matter how tough football is always try to stick it out because in the end it will be worth it with all the friendships and time shared with your brothers.
Know a local athlete that you believe is The Ultimate? Tell us who you would like spotlighted by completing the form here, at gocorn.org/athlete.
Note: Interviews may be edited for length and clarity.