Brandon Hanneman didn’t set any records during his football career at Southmoore High School. In fact, thanks to several talented skill position players ahead of him on the depth chart, Hanneman didn’t log a lot of playing time.
But the 2016 graduate came to practice every day, worked hard and helped make him and the SaberCats better. And it’s those lessons of hard work, teamwork and accountability that he learned during his prep days that are currently serving him well as a United States Marine.
Hanneman, whose parents both teach in the Southmoore school system, recently had some leave time and returned home and spent some time visiting former coaches and watching this year’s team practice. A conversation with head coach Jeremy Stark turned into an impromptu opportunity to speak to the team about what he learned as a player and how it’s helping him today as a Marine.
“Brandon spoke about understanding that you have a role,” said Stark. “You might not be the starter. You might be the third string wide receiver, but you have a job. You have a role on this team. That job is to get the first team defensive backs ready to go or push that second team receiver or push that first team receiver.”
“It’s the same thing in the military,” continued Stark. “You’ve always got a job to do. Brandon works on engines for some of the jets. He said, ‘that’s my job. I don’t fly them, but I’m the one who works on the engine part of it. If I don’t do my job, those guys aren’t flying.’ He told those guys it’s the same thing with football. If you’re not doing your job, you’re not pushing those guys, you’re not getting better.”
Southmoore has struggled some this season and Hanneman’s speech came at a pivotal time in the SaberCat’s season.
“We had some seniors quit midseason and there’s been kind of a lack of leadership,” admitted sophomore safety Tyler White. “That’s what he saw that we were lacking.”
“A lot of kids now, they’ve got to have instant gratification,” stated Stark. “You’ll have some guys, not as many as you used to, those program guys, who are seniors who aren’t starting, who aren’t contributing a whole lot. They say, ‘I’m not going to do all this work in the offseason and in the summer and not get to play.’ Those guys aren’t around anymore. But for Brandon to come in and say that he knew his role, he knew where he stood. He was never complaining or mad about it. He understood and kept working to get better.”
It was a message that got through to many of the SaberCat players, especially the underclassmen and non-starters.
“I think hearing it from him, they kind of took it to heart,” said White. “You know, ‘I’m more important than I think I am.'”
“He said that we can help our team and make everyone else better,” added junior linebacker Joey Stover. “Hearing it from somebody who’s already made it out of high school and how it affected him, how somebody above him pushed him, it made an impact on us. I come from a military family. I know that they’ve always said that we need to have good leadership. It got through to me hearing it from someone other than my parents.”
“I think the kids need to hear from other guys besides us because they’re around us every day,” remarked Stark. “I think sometimes they might be tired of hearing it from us. So when they hear from a coach or a former player who’s been there, who’s done it, who’s had success, it’s another avenue to try to get to them. They can see that this guy’s done it and he’s having success.”
Hanneman’s discussion must have gotten through to the players. The SaberCats picked up their first win of the season last week, knocking off Edmond North, 24-17.