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Van Alstyne senior Brett Long plays undersized

By Griff Servati
Van Alstyne Leader
Brett Long a senior defender for the Panthers will take the home field for the last time this week.

   In February, Van Alstyne moved up to Class 4A, and it became the smallest school in the division. At the same time, it was matched with some of the largest in the classification. It was apparent that in February when the team would take the field, it might look undermanned and undersized. For Brett Long, one of VA's senior players being undersized has always been the challenge he has faced, "I just had to work very hard to get to where I am physically. I was not blessed with athletic ability or size, so everything I have now came from hard work."

    Mikeal Miller, Van Alstyne head coach, said of Long, "Brett is one of the most selfless players on our team.  He has been asked to play different positions on multiple occasions. He always has zero hesitation in doing what's best for our team, putting his desires and comfort level aside."

Long, who plays primarily on the defensive line, using his speed and strength instead of his mass to go against more massive offensive linemen. Miller spoke of Long's versatility, "In a game earlier this year he played three different positions and had only practiced two of them but due to injuries we needed someone to fill a spot in the middle of the game and Brett stepped up."

For Long, he did not play football until the opportunity to play for the school in middle school. He played mostly baseball and soccer during his childhood days, but after that first season in seventh grade, he said, "I enjoyed that the most out of any sport I played."

Brett Long a senior defender for the Panthers will take the home field for the last time this week.

    Long's hard work to become a stronger player with the ability to play undersized at his position came in the offseasons through powerlifting. As a junior, he advanced to the regional powerlifting meet. It was through powerlifting as a freshman that Coach Dru Murray impacted his life and development.  Long said, "he helped me with my confidence when it came to football and lifting especially. He taught me that I can always do more and not be scared of a challenge. He also showed me that a good work ethic could get you far in life."     

    That hard work ethic is being put to work this year as Long is a part of VAHS concurrent education, taking collegiate level courses during this football season. Long was honest in sharing the struggles that he and other student-athletes go through during the season, "I never have free time outside of school and sports. Football is a six-day a week activity, and I have seven days worth of school work between high school assignments and college. I'll be honest that I also struggle with procrastination, and I end up cramming it all in a day or two before it's due."

    As the seniors of 2020 will take the home field one last time tonight, Long shared that his favorite memories of his time in blue and white, "Most of my good memories are just from the fun times our little group had while playing together."  Coach Miller made sure to emphasize what he sees in the senior, "He is a fantastic  young man, a good leader, and a great teammate."  

Brett Long a senior defender for the Panthers will take the home field for the last time this week

Friday night before the game, senior football players, cheerleaders, athletic trainers, and band members will be recognized during Senior Night activities. Kickoff for the matchup against Aubrey is set for 7:30 pm.