Andrew Van Wie rises to challenges


Andrew Van Wie rises to challenges

As he prepares to head into middle school and then the high school level, Andrew Van Wie has already set a pretty high bar for himself. The sixth grader was not only a rousing success on the football field this past season, he was equally aces in the classroom.

A straight-A student at Notre Dame Academy in Duluth, Georgia, Van Wie had the discipline to hit the books even after driving up to an hour each way to and from football practice. “It’s actually pretty hard because with football practice three days a week, I’d get home after 9 o’clock,” he said. “I have to pay a lot of attention in class, take good notes and work hard. I work hard at school and at football. I’ve been doing it the last few years, school and sports, and it comes a lot easier once you get used to it.”

Van Wie used his athletic ability and smarts to win the starting quarterback job with the Forsyth Paladins, who entered the 11U season ranked third in the state. After shaking off some injuries early in the season, Van Wie threw 15 touchdown passes and led the Paladins to the Georgia Division 1 semifinals.

“I really liked playing against the best competition in the state,” he said. “I proved to myself that I can play with anyone. It raised my confidence because now I know I’ve done it and I know what to expect.”

Van Wie’s strong grasp of the game allowed Forsyth to install a no-huddle spread offense, and the Paladins also used hand signals on center snaps while expanding the playbook. “I was really proud of the way the season went because it was a new team for me and there was a lot of competition at quarterback,” he said. “I had to prove I could be the starting quarterback and one of the team leaders.”

Home at QB

Van Wie proved he was up to the challenge, and he’s happy he was moved from offensive tackle to QB after just two games of his first football season in third grade. “Back when I started football, I enjoyed it and I thought our team did pretty good, so I was hoping quarterback would be my position for the future,” Van Wie said. “I’ve been able to play quarterback and I really like it. Everyone looks up to you and you have to be the leader of the team. That’s something I really like about quarterback.”

In 2012, Van Wie finished first in his age group at NFA’s Duel of the Dozens in Massillon, Ohio. This past summer, he placed second. “I know that for everyone from NFA in my grade, I can compete with them,” Van Wie said. “That helped me a lot, and it helped my team. The kids I competed with at the Duel helped me compete for the quarterback job on my team.”

In addition to the past two Duels, Van Wie has attended five NFA regional quarterback camps over the last three years. “Andrew has a lot of talent that’s going to take him a long way,” said NFA Coach Adam Britt. “He picks things up really fast, especially for his age, and he can do anything you ask him to do on the field.”

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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University