You know you're doing well when the referees are telling you so.
Whitnall's Joel Stave experienced this as a freshman. "A couple of the referees who have seen a lot of kids play told me that I should really get to some camps and said I could really throw the ball."
As a Junior, Stave helped lead Whitnall to a 7-2 record overall, which was good enough to get them into the Division 2 playoffs.
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Stave is proving those referees right, although he feels it's more for his arm's accuracy than his strength. "The strongest part of my game is passing with touch and seeing the field. I improved a lot in the off-season on reading defenses and different types of coverages." He added, "this has not only helped improve my decision making on where to go with the ball, but also sped up my decision making process so I can get the ball out of my hands and into the hands of my receivers."
It's not only getting the ball to his receivers that he's thinking about; getting himself out of trouble when nobody can get open downfield is on his mind as well. "I need to work on my speed the most. I am pretty quick in the pocket when it comes to avoiding the rush but I need to improve my speed so when no one open down field I am able to pull in down and run the ball. Increasing my speed will also help me in the sprint out passing game so I can get to the edge and break contain by the defensive end or outside linebacker giving me an open passing lane."
Whatever the position, whatever the style of play, every player needs a solid support system. His dad is his primary source of inspiration and support. "He is a very hard worker and never complains about having to get up and go to work or having to do work around the house. He is very good to my family and has taught me a lot about football and life in general. I have also been influenced by Tim Tebow because of his phenomenal performance on the field, plus his Christian witness and strong character."
He hasn't been hearing from anyone in "The Swamp", but the midwest has been creating plenty of buzz about Stave. Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Bowling Green have all been giving him updates on their program on a weekly basis. Stave has been active at Michigan's and Winona State's camps, and he's performed at the Nike, Bellin, and Midwest Combines.
Off the field, Stave is having fun learning the guitar and piano, and he's sharing his talents when he gets the chance. "I have been playing the piano for about eight years and given volunteer concerts at parade of homes events and assisted living facilities. Also I was able to win the middle school talent show with a piano medley and harmonica solo I performed. I have only been playing the guitar for about a year and a half and I have been teaching myself. Nonetheless, my skills have improved significantly and I plan to compete in the high school talent show this January."
Senior year will be an important one for Stave, and for his Whitnall team, as they try to establish themselves as a regular playoff contender. "I know I have quite a bit of work to do but I think with my size and abilities I will be able to play football at the next level."