Vince Lombardi once said, “Football is a great deal like life in that it teaches that work, sacrifice, perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness and respect for authority is the price that each and every one of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” Coach Lombardi believed football was one of the sweetest parts of life, and Friendswood Junior High’s Hunter Smyrl practices this belief every day.
Smyrl is on the eighth grade A-team in the FJH football program. He has helped lead the Mustangs to a winning season as a highly successful defensive lineman; however, he has not always been one of the biggest stand-out players in the program. Last season, Smyrl played on the seventh-grade B-team but worked hard to rise to the top.
“Having been on the B-team last year, he was self-motivated to work all year to improve and make the A-team,” Wade Rendon, FJH defensive coordinator, said. “But he didn’t just move up to the A-team; he moved up to the A-team and he stands out. After three of our games, the coach from the other team has come up to me while we were shaking hands and said things like ‘55 is a monster, where did he come from?’”
Smyrl said he will not stop there and is already looking to the future.
“Outside of school, I train every day,” Smyrl said. “It sounds crazy, but I hope to make it to the NFL one day, so that motivates me to try hard in practice every day.”
Rendon said he believes Smyrl’s work ethic will get him far.
“He’s a tireless worker. At practice, he’s non-stop. He’ll ask a lot of questions to make himself better, and he not only wants to help himself out but also the team,” Rendon stated. “He makes awesome plays every week, but he’s not all about the ‘look at me’ mentality; he’s the biggest cheerleader for the team as well.”
Smyrl’s teammate and friend Christian Porter has witnessed this mentality first-hand.
“He’s very hyper,” Porter laughed. “He’s just happy all the time. Sometimes if we’re losing, he’ll be the hype-leader to get us all going again. If we’re down, he tells us we can come back and he’ll just be passionate about everything.”
Rendon stated this leadership is evident on and off the field.
“I’ll give them my game plan, then he’ll lead the huddle,” Rendon said. “They all look toward him. He makes the calls, so they all look to Hunter. When he does well, the other guys all gravitate toward him. When someone else does well, he’s the first one to go congratulate them.”
This quality is something Smyrl does not have to think about but said it comes naturally.
“I’m a loud person, so I’m not shy to do anything,” Smyrl laughed. “I hype [my teammates] up. They’ll listen to me if I tell them to do something in the game.”
Porter said he listens to his teammate because Smyrl has earned his respect.
“He leads by his actions,” Porter said. “He’s very nice, caring and respectful to everyone he meets. He’ll do anything to help his friends.”
Rendon said he hopes Smyrl continues down the path he is going because, if he does, he will do great things and impact others.
“I hope he continues to be a leader and carry himself in a way that others want to strive to be like him.”