Leaders on and off the field


(Photo courtesy Spartan Athletics): Patrick Owens (left) and Jimmy English (right) of the STAC sprint football team were inducted this year into the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society.

Anthony Lulgjuraj, Reporter

When it comes to being a leader in sports, you think about the fiercest competitors on the court or field and how they would do whatever it would take to win no matter the cost. A leader acts as another coach who plays out on the field or court and who teammates can rely on to make the correct decisions and to seek advice from. What else makes a leader? A leader also knows how to conduct him- or herself off the field or court as well.

Being a student-athlete is one of the toughest jobs in college because of the packed schedules, long days, early mornings, and trying to balance school, sports, friends, and family. Student-athletes are recognized year in and year out for their impressive accomplishments and all the sacrifices they have made to reach their goals. Two student-athletes here at St. Thomas Aquinas College embody what it means to be both a student and an athlete. 

STAC sprint football team members Patrick Owens and Jimmy English were both recently recognized for their accomplishments in the classroom by becoming members of the 2021 National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society. In order to receive such a prestigious honor, the NFF requires that a player must have completed their last year of playing eligibility, maintained a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2, completed all degree requirements, as well as being starters or major contributors to the team. 

Looking at this year’s NFF Hampshire Honor Society members, there are names that stand out like Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones who were both just recently drafted into the National Football League. Owens expressed his gratitude for being inducted.

“I would say it feels like a true honor for all the hours spent on the turf and classroom. Becoming a member of the 2021 NFF Honor Society, with legend Archie Manning being one of the chairmen, is truly amazing,” Owens said. “Seeing guys like Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones on that 2021 list makes me very humbled by this induction.” The countless hours that Owens and English have spent not only perfected their craft on the football field, but also in the classroom which is truly remarkable. 

Both Owens and English will truly be missed next season as they are graduating from STAC within a week. They have left their imprint on this team since they arrived on campus and became a huge part of the start of the sprint football program here at STAC. They have set the example that Head Coach Matthew Barry has sought for his players to do for the rest of the team and exemplify what it means to be a true leader.

English expressed his thoughts about the honor.

“I would say I’ve never been a guy who cared too much about awards or accolades just as long as I was playing the game,” English said. “It’s pretty cool to be recognized for this award in the same list with guys like Trevor Lawrence, but at the end of the day, we’re all just playing because we love the game.” 

Owens and English have both proved that true leadership comes from the passion and love for the game. They have helped lay the foundation and groundwork for the future of the STAC sprint football program and their contributions on and off the field are etched into Spartan history. As Owens and English depart from their college careers, their hard work and dedication to their craft will always follow them.