Sports, Sports, and Sports
By Barry Engelhardt
"While Easton just started playing cornhole a few months ago, he laughs and admits that he can already defeat his family and has quickly started playing competitively, sometimes participating in multiple tournaments in the same week."
When asked to list his favorite pastimes, Momence sixth grader Easton Smith quickly supplied three answers – ‘sports, sports, and sports.’ Hardworking and competitive, Easton is a three-sport athlete who has recently added a fourth sport — cornhole — to his arsenal. He jokes that maybe it’s not quite a sport but quickly adds that he regularly competes in tournaments, which leads me to disagree. “Oh, that makes it a sport, alright,” I reply with a knowing grin.
Easton shares that while he’s always loved basketball, he’s recently started practicing with the school team. As a sixth grader, he’s now able to play basketball for Momence. Nightly practice keeps him busy, often arriving home long after sunset. But he wouldn’t have it any other way, as sports are his passion.
Easton says that sports are ultimately about ‘friendship.’ “My teammates are like family, almost,” suggests Easton. While he enjoys school, he has also learned several life lessons through athletics. He’s become a better communicator by talking with his teammates and coaches. He also learned how to push himself and become a hard worker by wanting to push his team forward, even when things get hard. “Football, especially, teaches you to be a hard worker,” shares Easton.
A three-sport athlete, Easton plays football, basketball, and baseball. He is a versatile baseball player alternating between the pitcher’s mound, first base, and third base. When asked about his batting, he can quickly recite last season’s batting and slugging percentages, which I’d classify as remarkably impressive.
Easton’s favorite sport is football. He hopes to play football in college and hopes to play for Coach Dan Lanning at Oregon. While he hopes to play for the Ducks in college, his ultimate ambition is to play for the National Football League (NFL) after graduating.
Easton grew up in a full household with four sisters and one brother. Many of his five siblings have entered adulthood and left the house. Just a few years ahead of him, the next youngest is his nineteen-year-old sister.
While Easton just started playing cornhole a few months ago, he laughs and admits that he can already defeat his family and has quickly started playing competitively, sometimes participating in multiple tournaments in the same week. He throws underhand and slightly twists the bag, as he’s not allowed to throw overhand in tournament competition.
Easton takes the same approach to school as he does with sports, working hard and finding value in all his classes. He enjoys math, social studies, and STEM-related courses, just as he enjoys each sport for different reasons. Easton has especially enjoyed learning about ancient empires such as in China and Egypt. He’s working his way through mixed number fractions in math, a skill he says he’s already mastered by working ahead.