By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Editor
As published in the Hillsdale Daily News on Feb. 18
Ethan Smith will never forget his senior year and neither will his peers and mentors.
It was announced Tuesday that the Hillsdale Academy four-sport star was named one of 10 MHSAA Scholar-Athlete recipients for Class C and D schools, just a few months after he was named the Wendy’s High School Heisman award winner for boys in the state of Michigan.
Through Farm Bureau Insurance Smith will be awarded a $1,000 college scholarship and receive recognition at halftime of the Class C boys basketball state final contest at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on March 28.
“I was surprised again, like with the Wendy’s one. I kind of figured you had to accomplish some big (or) significant athletic achievement and I really haven’t so I was pretty surprised to hear it from (athletic director Mike) Roberts,” he said. “I’m very grateful because of the financial situation, so that was very helpful. I’m just very blessed and very pleased. I kind of came home and joked around, ‘Hey mom and dad, I made $1,000 today’ and they were very happy.”
The Academy has had just eight graduating classes to date, but Smith is the school’s third Scholar-Athete and first male recipient. Clara Leutheuser was honored with the award in 2008, two years after her sister Anna received the same recognition.
“It does mean a lot to our school and we’re very proud of Ethan and it’s a good indicator of what we try to do here,” Roberts said. “Hillsdale Academy prides itself on being very strong academically but this shows there is a balance that we try to strive for outside of the classroom. We’re trying to tell our kids though that it’s not normal to have so many students from a school like this honored in a short span of time. We could go on quite a dry spell because there are so many good schools we’re up against.”
Roberts graduated from Sturgis High School and he said he always felt it was a school with a strong commitment to academics and athletics, but from his knowledge they’ve never had a Scholar-Athlete.
Smith said he is a driven individual, but never expected this kind of success so soon.
“I’ve never really pictured myself getting these awards. My goal is just to get into college and pay for it you know, but this kind of award definitely helps,” he said.
Smith has earned four letters in soccer, basketball and track and field along with three letters in cross country. He has been the team captain in soccer, cross country and basketball.
Off the playing field he has been named to the headmaster’s list every trimester of high school and he was awarded the Lamoreaux Scholarship for his strong academic record.
All Scholar-Athlete applicants were required to submit an essay on sportsmanship to accompany his or her list of athletic and academic achievements.
Here is an excerpt from Smith’s essay: “Sportsmanship is more important than winning, as sportsmanship includes several attributes such as respect, kindness, humility, and grace, which are needed not just in sports, but in all of life.”
Smith thanked his parents for making practicing sportsmanship just another habit of his daily routine.
“To me, I’ve just been raised in a good way that I’ve never really had to struggle with showing good sportsmanship, my parents have just always taught me to do that so it’s second nature I guess,” he said.
Smith plans on majoring on civil engineering in college and he said his top three college choices are the University of Dayton, the University of Michigan and Hillsdale College.