All-Scholastic Andover High star offensive and defensive lineman AJ Heidtke has also been a superstar in the classroom during his time with the Golden Warriors.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder, known for his massive hits on the gridiron, took time to discuss how he juggles academics and athletics:
SPORTS PLAYED: Football, wrestling, lacrosse and track
ACADEMIC HIGHLIGHTS: 3.685 weighted GPA; Junior year straight A’s; Never below in ‘A’ in sciences.
BIGGEST ACADEMIC ACCOMPLISHMENT: Keeping up very good grades over the past four years of high school. I have never had below a B and I prided myself in that.
FAVORITE SUBJECT: Survey of American Literature. This is because I had a really awesome teacher and I really believe in teachers that connect to their students and make it enjoyable to learn and be in the classroom.
BEST ATHLETIC MOMENT: When I won the Division. 1 North sectionals in wrestling. Wrestling was something that I never wanted to do in the past, but joining and having a good year showed me the importance of reaching out of your comfort zone.
BEST ADVICE FROM A COACH: My (offensive line) coach, Corey Steele, always preaches to play loose and just have fun. When I am in a stressful position either on the field or in the classroom, I remember his advice and just make the best of the moment. It’s amazing how that little tip has helped me throughout my athletic career.
ON BALANCING ACADEMICS AND SPORTS: Balancing the student life as well as the athlete’s life comes down to one thing — discipline. After a long hard practice, I have to have enough discipline to still get my homework done and also balance out time to enjoy myself and hangout with friends. Discipline is something that I had to learn over the years and football was something that really taught me what it meant to be disciplined.
ADVICE TO INCOMING FRESHMEN: Never, never, never give up. While that statement seems corny, it has truly gotten me to the place I am today. Pushing yourself in the weight room and the classroom and not giving up is what has turned me into the man I am today. I would never have reached the goals in my life that I have if I would’ve given up on football freshman year.
COLLEGE PLANS: I will be attending Brown University and playing football there. I chose Brown because of the academic and athletic prestige. The whole coaching staff and current players were very trusting and welcoming to me. I believe Brown is where I can reach my true potential athletically and academically.
FAVORITE COMMUNITY SERVICE: I help my elderly neighbor around her house and when she needs things done outside, whether that is cleaning or moving stuff it always makes me happy to help her because of all the great stories she always tells me and the company she provides. She is an amazing person and always acts like a grandmother to me so I help her whenever she needs it.
LESSONS FROM COMMUNITY SERVICE: My community service has taught me the importance of a strong bond within the town. I learned the power of giving without receiving and assisting those in need. Helping one of the local churches in my town was an amazing opportunity that showed me the benefits of putting others before me.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A LEADER?: It means to put everyone before me and not using my position for only my own personal benefit. It means being the person everyone can fall on and look to for help are traits that I pride myself in having as a leader. Not always doing everything completely right but doing it to the best of my ability is what is most important to me. Being able to guide people down a successful path while being able to offer my experience to better help them reach their goals is what being a leader means to me.
IN 10 YEARS ... I hope to have achieved my goals while using all of my assets and abilities to be successful and ultimately achieve happiness.
Reference: “AJ is a sweet, kind, patient person. He is quick to see the goodness in others. He has finally overcome his tendency to be overly critical of himself. He really came out of his shell his junior year and able to move outside of his comfort zone. Never did he think he would walk onto a mat in a wrestling singlet in front of a crowd. He did and ended up being sectional champ.”
Ann Fortier, guidance counselor