Matthew Summers – Florida Nomination & Photography by Traci Sproule Photography Issue 59 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Matthew Summers is a gentle leader, but he commands respect. He serves as Captain of his varsity football team and guides his classmates as the Spiritual Life Senior Prefect, all while maintaining straight A’s. He inspires young children through his weekly involvement in the children’s program at church, coaching intramural sports and supervising and administrating a kids' summer sleep away camp. He is calm and encouraging, yet strong in his faith.
Tell us about your football career. Growing up I really was not athletic and really was not interested in any sports. However, when I was around 10 I started throwing around the football with a friend and really enjoyed it. I started playing flag and then I started training and then I played tackle and one thing led to another and it soon became a very central point of my life. Now I am about to play my 6th year of tackle football and my 8th year of football in general. Now as a senior I am so excited and grateful to have the opportunity to be a team captain for my senior season.
What is a favorite accomplishment from football? Definitely being team captain. It means a lot to me and I've been looking at the captain lockers since I was in 8th grade saying that I was gonna be in one someday and now to have that opportunity means so much to me.
What does it mean to you to be a captain? Like I previously said it means so much to me to have this opportunity. I have worked so hard over the past four years to be in this position, and it is something I will cherish forever.
What do your duties as a captain entail? For me, I feel like the primary role is caring for my teammates. Giving teammates rides, getting them lunch when they don't have any, helping them learn about the game and become better players. It also includes pushing them to be better players and people, even when they don't want to be pushed. I love all my teammates and I want them to be the best players and people they can be and that is what I consider to be my primary role as team captain.
What is your strongest leadership quality? How much I care. I feel that the most important quality of a leader is being caring. If you care for the people you lead it will motivate you to work as hard as you can for them and make decisions that are unselfish and best for the group as a whole. I care a lot about my teammates, and classmates, and just people in general even if it doesn't always show and I feel like that is my best leadership quality.
How did you find and why did you choose Traci Sproule Photography for your photographer? What was your experience like? What did you love most about it? She does all the photos for athletics and JCS and she did my older sister's senior photos. It was a lot of fun! Actually, a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be, I genuinely enjoyed it and it was a unique experience. Doing some photo shots that nobody else in our school has ever done, it was a really cool feeling.
Why is getting straight As important to you? Colossian 3:23 "Whatever you do work heartily as for the Lord, and not for man." I believe that I should work hard at whatever I do regardless of what it is and if I really apply myself and work as hard as I can, I will get straight As in school. If I worked as hard as I possibly could and I ended up with a B in a class I would not be upset, I just know that if I really work hard I should have straight As and that's why it matters to me.
What do you like to do with the children at your church? The main thing I do is I do the puppet show at the beginning of Sunday school. It's a lot of fun and the kids really enjoy it. It is always awesome when kids that have never been to the treehouse (what we call our Sunday school) come and see the puppet show for the first time. They always think it's awesome and it is a great feeling to have an impact on them like that.
What is the hardest part about being a role model to younger children? What is the best part? The pressure of knowing that there are always eyes watching you. Whenever I think about doing or saying something I always have to think about the fact that there are people looking up to me and that I have to do the right thing. It can be very overwhelming at times, and I often feel a lot of pressure from it but I love the responsibility. I love the feeling of responsibility and I want to be a positive role model to as many kids as possible. A lot of people do not have positive role models in their lives and even a lot of my peers do not know what a true Christian teen looks like and the opportunity to be that example to them is so amazing.
What sports do you coach and supervise? I coach intramural flag-football for 3rd-5th graders. It is a ton of fun and is one of my favorite times of every year.
What have you learned about yourself in this leadership role? That I have a true passion for coaching. There are very few things I enjoy as much as coaching these kids. From making a play book, to calling plays, to running down the field as one of my players is about to score, to the smiles that are on their face after a win, I love every bit of coaching and I am so glad I took the opportunity a few years ago to try it for the first time.
What inspiring things about you does your nomination not cover? I deeply care about our environment. I volunteered at loggerhead marine life center for 9 months, which is an animal hospital that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases sea turtles back into the wild. I am also always eager and willing to help anyone who needs help and asks for it. I have helped many elderly people from my church with projects that they cannot handle on their own, I spent time serving at urban youth impact helping kids to learn, and I have spent many weekends at the food bank helping to give out food to those who need it.
What else would you most like to talk about? The thing I would most like to talk about is my faith. As a Christian the most important thing in my life is my faith and I would love to talk about how it shapes my life and drives all my decisions. All of my best traits I have because of my faith, and it is what drives me to work hard to make an impact on others’ lives.
If you were to present a topic to a group of your peers, what would it be? Once again it would be my faith. As someone who wants to go into ministry I would love to talk about the Bible to my peers and even more than that I would love to discuss it with them. I’ve had many interesting conversations with my peers about different aspect of my faith, the Bible, Christianity, etc. and I love it, very few things bring me the joy I get from answering their questions. Although talking about football would definitely be a close second to when it comes to topics I can talk forever about, my faith and the Bible would definitely be the topic I want to talk about the most.
Look for Matthew in issue 59 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!