Andrew Luck and Clayton Kershaw train with the Summit High football team in July

Retired NFL quarterback Andrew Luck trains with the Summit High School football program during practice in July at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge.
Courtesy photo

After three-time Major League Baseball winner Cy Young Clayton Kershaw quit a weight training session at Summit High School a month ago, Tigers coaches and players joked, “You never know what you are doing. might miss if you skip workout. “

“It’s going to be Michael Jordan, or this guy or that guy,” Summit head coach James Wagner said. “And, of course, within five days we got a call regarding Andrew Luck coming.”

In July, the Summit High School varsity football team had perhaps the biggest week of training with American sports superstars of any high school group in summer training history. And at the heart of that dreamlike week was a truly surreal night for the love of the game at Tiger Stadium with one of the world’s greatest gunslingers.

It was Summit High School assistant football coach Rob Gannon who looked at his iPhone on a Tuesday in July to see an Indianapolis phone number he didn’t recognize. He let the call go to voicemail. When he listened back, he heard the voice of a 31-year-old who also enjoys skiing in Summit County: retired Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

Gannon had initially met Luck the previous winter through mutual friends at a ski patrol cabin at Breckenridge Ski Resort. Luck told Tigers defensive back coach Gannon that he would love to come and practice one day.

That day manifested itself last month when Summit coaches told players the day before a Thursday practice that the former No. 1 overall pick would come to practice the next day. This sent Tigers junior starting quarterback Jack Schierholz into an analysis of the NFL‘s No.1 draft pick list. The names included the likes of three generational quarterbacks drafted by the Colts: Denver Broncos legend John Elway, in 1983, Broncos Super Bowl winner Peyton Manning, in 1998, and Luck, in 2012.

“And then I remembered hearing something about Andrew Luck skiing at A-Basin,” Schierholz said. “So I thought, ‘Maybe it’s him.’ It would make sense, but as soon as I walked in it was surreal.

What was especially surreal for every Tiger athlete and trainer in attendance was how gracious and attentive Luck was. Tigers offensive coordinator Sean Mase had never met Luck before that day, however, a former Arapahoe Basin ski area employee Mase had met other members of Luck’s family on the ski area, where they have enjoyed skiing for decades.

“I’ve never seen Andrew Luck ski, but I guess he rocks,” Mase said.

Once in practice, as Luck sat with the coaches near the whiteboard, Mase and Wagner quickly saw that Luck was in no rush to do anything other than discuss football. Organically, the conversation turned to luck – a retired superstar in his prime that many NFL teams would love to have in training camp right now – helping them schematize pass protection. and rotate their ball carriers to improve their fast offensive play.

It was far from the end of Luck’s contributions. As the quadruple Pro Bowler and 2018 NFL Returning Player of the Year began chatting with the assembled Tigers in the team’s locker room, Mase and Wagner soon realized that the planned 15 minutes of kids asking questions might end up taking all the practice.

Retired NFL quarterback Andrew Luck chats with 2021 Summit High graduate quarterback Cam Kalaf (left), Tigers head coach James Wagner (right) and Summit High School’s locker room football program during practice in July at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge.
Summit Tigers football photo

Luck was honest and thoughtful in all of his responses, whether it was Center Tiger Graham Kalaf asking him to choose between skiing or snowboarding (skiing, although Luck said he snowboarded) or his thoughts on the fact. to play at Mile High Stadium (Luck told the Tigers it was one of the loudest, noisiest environments he’s ever seen).

For Wagner, seeing Luck asking every player’s question all the time in the world was a reminder that football unites – whether you’re a 15-year-old who’s brand new to the sport or a superstar quarterback.

“That’s the great thing about football is that it brings us all together and you have a level playing field, that middle ground to be in that locker room and for it to just be the one of the boys, ”Wagner said. “Football is football no matter where you are. I think he was so happy to be on the pitch again and to be around the game. And it was really cool for me to see that in him.

Luck then joined the Tigers on the training ground. He shared tips with Schierholz, such as holding football with a looser grip to improve consistency. For senior wide receiver Aidan Collins and other Tigers, luck made it clear that the eagle claw grip was the only way to carry the football.

Wagner even looked up at one point in the first team defense practice to see Luck being the scouts offensive quarterback for the junior varsity team, throwing passes on all the ground.

“The kids are all trying to have choices about Andrew so they can tell,” Wagner said. “We almost had one.

Retired NFL quarterback Andrew Luck (center back) poses for a photo with the Summit High School football team during practice in July at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge.
Summit Tigers football photo

As for Kershaw, the 33-year-old, eight-time all-star and reigning world series champion, found his way to the Tiger weight room while he and his family stayed in town during the All-Star break and the series that called against Colorado. Rockies at Coors Field in Denver. Like other vacationing fathers, Kershaw needed to find a place to do extra work outside of family time. His doctor asked Wagner if the future Hall of Fame could continue to recover from an injury at the Tigers’ weight room.

Wagner said the common element of the sport also stood out for his team in this setting, as the young Tigers saw the Los Angeles Dodger go through some of the same drills they did.

Wagner said that when he asked Kershaw to talk to the boys, he said they wouldn’t believe how many players get to majors purely on talent. But talent, Kershaw said, doesn’t get them far. It’s the guys who work and compete every day who maintain the highest level.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (right) addresses the Summit High School football team in the weight room as coaches watch during practice in July at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge.
Summit Tigers football photo

Schierholz – who has said his compatriot left-hander Kershaw is his favorite baseball player – saw Kershaw’s work ethic firsthand, as he changed his typical lifting position to display next to the player with the most useful of the National League 2014.

“It just shows it’s the work ethic,” Schierholz said. “It’s nothing crazy that they’re doing to reach this level. It has shown that he is at a high level and accomplished a lot, but he still has that drive to improve.

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About Betty J. Snyder

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