If you have been to any of the varsity football games this year, you’ve probably noticed a stand out player on the field for Belmont Hill. Mike Ahonen can do it all. As an offensive wide receiver, a defensive safety and a special teams kick returner, he is constantly making big plays for the team. As captain, he has also been able to show off his leadership skills by inspiring the rest of the team to always keep working. Nevertheless, he has still been able to score numerous touchdowns, intercept quite a few passes (with three in one game!), and was fearless enough to finish a tackle after his helmet had been ripped off.
Mike’s football career started when he was just 8 years old. After joining the Belmont Hill team in 9th grade, he was welcomed into the caring but intense community that is football at our school. Mike joined varsity sophomore year and noted that it was “quite the reality check. The tempo and speed of varsity football was nothing like I had ever experienced.” The win over BB&N that year also helped to strengthen his passion for the sport. Since then, he has drastically improved his skills, from an already exceptional varsity athlete, and has become the stellar football player we see on the field today. Now, he is a captain and has proven time and time again that he deserves the position.
None of this came easy, however. In sophomore year, Mike suffered a season ending injury that was a real blow to him. After breaking his back, he needed 3 months in a brace as well as 3 months in physical therapy. Yet, this only strengthened his determination and he was able to discover how much he loved and appreciated the sport. Mike also saw last year’s restrictions as a hindrance to his football career. The pandemic was tough on him because he saw the potential that the team had last year and regrets the lack of a complete season.
Mike isn’t just an athlete though. Off the field he is able to showcase his leadership skills by being a head of the Peer Leaders. He takes lots of pride in leading the group and so he wants to do a good job. Along with helping younger students, he sees the group as an opportunity to get to know others and meet new people that he otherwise wouldn’t interact with.
Still, he is focused on the last game of the season, next Saturday, November 13 against Governor’s Academy. He said that he hopes to “end the season on a high note” and that the football team “shouldn’t let what’s happened so far determine what we do next”. After this season ends, Mike will take the winter off from any serious sports but will take back the reins of leadership and be captain of the track and field team in the spring. The Panel wishes Mike success in his future leadership roles and are confident that he will continue to be a star athlete.