Photo courtesy of Brian Christman. Used with permission.
High school is a time full of spirit, pep assemblies, and football games. The air lingers in the fading sunset lit sky. While students and parents file in and out of rows of crowded bleachers. To most people, this is just another Friday night under the lights, but to sophomore Ben Christman, this is a chance to work on perfecting his craft. From running down the field in a pee-wee jersey to blocking the opposing varsity team from scoring the winning touch down, Christman thrives for football.
Many schools have reached out to Christman to see if he is interested in coming to play for them. Some schools gave him immediate offers, including division one colleges such as The Ohio State University.
Some children play with toy trucks or cars, but he has always preferred throwing around the pigskin. Growing up, he has dedicated his time and effort to the sport that he loves.
“Every weekend I am usually doing something football related at least once such as training, watching a game, or even playing Madden,” Christman said.
Christman was introduced to the sport through his family. While many students have families of bankers, business owners or doctors, he comes from a family full of former football players and cheerleaders. Christman commented on how he was first introduced to the game.
“I would always watch football with my dad and he would tell [me] how much fun football is, so I decided to give it a shot,” Christman said.
Sports are an extra-curricular that many students start at a very young age, and while tackle football is reserved for middle school children and onwards, the players have to start with youth games. After fifth grade, the boys graduate and see football as more than a game. Christman explains why he decided to take football seriously.
“When I was in kindergarten and first grade I played flag football and since I was in second grade, I’ve been playing tackle football. I was in eighth grade and I had realized that I only had five seasons left to play the game and I saw the potential to become a college student-athlete,” Christman said.
Christman not only plays football, but other sports as well, and he is currently playing for the junior varsity and varsity basketball teams. Sophomore Jimmy Salamone comments on what it is like to have Christman on the team.
“I’d describe him as a good teammate. [One piece of advice for Christman] is to keep playing basketball so we have a center senior year,” Salamone said.
While he plays sports, he has to manage the course of a full-time student. Christman comments on how he works through classes while managing sports.
“It can be hard to balance my schedule, but in order to reach my goals, I have to do what I [have] to do,” Christman said.
Other teammates have noticed how hard Christman works, on and off the field. Senior nose guard and tight end Matt Grayem shares why he likes having Christman as a friend and teammate.
“Ben is one of the most talented kids I know. He’s always willing to work and is always at every single work out giving everything he has to offer. I’d describe him as gifted and humble, with an insane amount of talent. To do what he’s doing at fifteen years old is unheard of and I’m proud to call him a teammate,” Grayem said.
While football requires mental and physical durability, it also requires the ability to intimidate your opponent. Grayem commented on how Christman is a key part of intimidation.
“My favorite part of being on a team with him is how intimidating he is to opponents. I know that if any one of us got in a fight, we have Big Ben having our back and that’s scary for the other side,” Grayem said.
Intimidation is not the only characteristic of Christman that scouts appreciated. They have been watching him with films and admire his work ethic. Christman explains how scouts decide if the athlete is worth offering a spot to.
“Coaches watch film and do some research about a prospect, they often tend to talk with the prospect’s high school coach and ask them questions about their work ethic, grades, attitude, and other questions. Sometimes a coach will come to visit a school to meet someone in person and build a relationship. It also depends what class the prospect is in, because the coaches can only talk to juniors and below a certain amount of times and they have time to build a relationship, for seniors, there can be an everyday conversation to build trust,” Christman said.
Christman is only a sophomore, which means he has more time to not only choose a college, but also build the trusting relationship between his coaches and the other staff members. Christman explains how he keeps updated in the life of college athleticism.
“I try to talk with coaches over the phone at least once every week or so. For a lot of places. I will try to get [to] their campus for [a] visit [or] to check out the facilities, and sometimes watch them play a game or practice,” Christman said.
Although he does not know where he wants to go yet, he has so far received offers from thirty-one different school, both in and out of state. Christman states which schools have expressed interest in him.
“[I have received offers from] Penn State, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kent State, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio University, Akron, Purdue, Duke, Rutgers, Michigan, Michigan State, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwestern, North Carolina State, Indiana, Boston College, Syracuse, Kentucky, Wake Forest, South Carolina, Georgia, Arizona State, Missouri, and Florida State,” Christman said.
The players on the football team spend a rigorous amount of time at practice and on the field under the lights. This means that they are all very close and share valuable memories. Grayem commented on his favorite memory, which is also Christman’s favorite memory.
“My favorite memory of the past season is taking back the bell on Copley’s home field. It means more to all of us to be able to stomp all over them on their own field and then take the bell back from them,” Grayem said.
Christman will be playing for the varsity football team for two more years until he makes his decision on where he wants to go to college. Grayem explains the advice he would give Christman through high school and when he plays for college.
“If I could give Ben one piece of advice, it would be to keep working as hard as physically possible and to remember where you came from and what got you there because that’s what’s going to take you beyond limits you never even imagined. I can’t imagine a more deserving person to be getting these offers and this publicity than Ben Christman. Seeing not only what he’s doing at the age of fifteen, but also seeing him balance three sports while excelling in all of them, it truly is something special and I wish him all the luck in the world. It was an honor playing alongside him,” Grayem said.
Christman has the next two years to make his decision but receiving offers and interest as a sophomore has helped him develop a sense of humbleness. Christman commented on what it is like to receive so many offers.
“It feels great to be recognized by these universities, but I wouldn’t be at the position I am right now without my family, friends, teammates, coaches, teachers who push me every day to get better as a person,” Christman said.
In the meantime, Christman will continue to play football and consider his offers.