Despite closures, 16-year-old athlete ‘can get a lot done’
Some adults could be taught a lesson by 16-year-old Conner Younger.
Drive by the Younger farm and Sugar Grove on a given day and you can find the sophomore figuring things out on his own.
He’s got high aspirations, but Conner seems to be one that doesn’t necessarily need a coach barking at him or an organized practice to get going.
“We live on a farm, so I can get a lot done,” he said. “I’ll be ready for football (in the fall).”
The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent cancellation of school and sports has “definitely given me a lot more time to do workouts,” said Conner.
While he’s a typical active teen in many ways — plays football in the fall at Eisenhower High School, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring, he doesn’t have your typical teenage work ethic.
Conner wakes up, eats breakfast, and immediately takes care of “all the animals” on the farm. Normally, he’d now be off to school, but he gets another workout in… “I lift (weights) or go back outside to work,” said Conner, who prefers his workouts in the middle of the day and then at night — from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and/or 9:30 p.m. to midnight.
Again, sports practices are pretty structured; for Conner, he can make a workout out of just about anything on the farm.
“Normally I will see something and be like, oh, that would be a good workout,” he said.
Moving a scrap pile from one place to another is a perfect example.
Yeah, we get it, maybe the best thing would be to scrap that scrap pile, but Conner needs it for a workout later on.
More specifically, he found a big tractor tire in the weeds.
“I pulled it out,” said Conner. “Then, I take a sledgehammer to it. A sledgehammer really works the shoulders, back, and traps.”
But how long should he do it?
“Normally, I do it for a whole song,” said Conner.
Sounds about right.
“I have tractor tires I pull uphill, and hit them with a sledgehammer. We have animals so… picking up hay and pushing hay.”
These Rocky-type workouts aren’t without technology. Conner does a lot of research online trying to come up with the right workouts day by day and week by week.
Like we said earlier, he has high aspirations. Another example of not being your typical teen — he even tried the sport of rowing in New York across the border. Everything he does is to get better at football.
“I would like to go to the NFL for long-snapping,” said Conner, “or even go to the D1 (college) level for long-snapping.”
Don’t bet against the young man — he gets his inspiration from God and many other sources, from his father to coaches to late grandfather.
“A lot of it was my grandfather (Jerry Younger),” said Conner. “He was big into football… He passed away a year before I was born.”
But through stories from his father over the years, “that’s kind of where I got my love of football,” said Conner.
He said it wasn’t until the fifth or sixth grade he decided “I knew I wanted to play in college.”
A late starter (sarcasm).
That’s when he started lifting weights and working out — something he has come to love.
“We have our own weight room at our house that my dad has accumulated (through used or old weights) over the years,” said Conner.
When he hits a new mark, he wants to set another one.
If he sees a weightlifting record on the wall at his school, he wants to break it.
“I’ve absolutely failed at a lot of things, but then I take a step back to try to (give it another try),” said Conner. “I would consider myself a self-starter during lifting. We have a board of all the guys (at the high school) that set benching, squat and (clean and jerk) records. My goal at the end of my career is to surpass that by 35 pounds.”
He’s not off to a bad start starting on both sides of the ball as a freshman.
“He is an incredibly hard worker and pretty humble,” said his father, Steve. “Being homeschooled, he has a pretty small group of close friends so he really doesn’t care what people think about him. He definitely moves to his own beat.”
Even as an underclassman, not a bad teammate to be around.
“Since I’m the center, I got really close to my quarterback, Owen Trumbull, and he’s probably one of the hardest workers on the team.”
He wants to be that kind of teammate, too, that those younger can look up to.
Either way, he won’t stop working.
“When we are doing something at the school, I try to push my teammates,” said Conner.
But he leaves the sledgehammer at home.