North Harford lineman Chad Short always performs in high school… (Colby Ware / Photo for The…)
At center and on the defensive line, Chad Short is playing a key role for the No. 7 North Harford Hawks, who are 9-0 and have clinched the UCBAC Chesapeake Division title. Short, 5 feet 9, 215 pounds, has been a varsity starter for two years.
When he's not on the football field, Short prefers to be on stage. Ever since his mother told him in the sixth grade that she had been an actress in high school, he has acted in school plays. Although the fall musical conflicts with football, he has a small part in the school production of "White Christmas." Short, 17, plans to pursue the theatre as a career and hopes to attend the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. He has a 3.36 cumulative grade-point average and is on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout.
Question: How did you get started playing football?
Answer: I played one year of rec and I was interested in playing my freshman year, but my parents didn't want me to. They didn't want me getting hurt and I tried out for the musical that year, but I broke my leg. I broke my femur (performing a skit at Boy Scout camp). I had surgery and screws were put in. Then, I wanted to get back in shape because I had gained some weight after three months. I wanted to play football and I finally convinced my dad to let me play.
Q: What's the key to getting better as a lineman?
A: There are so many little things as a lineman that you have to focus on. Obviously, there's the lifting. You're going to use your arms and use your legs a lot, so it's squats and the bench and tackling. And it's footwork and knowing how to use your size against the other people. Like personally for me, I'm 5-9. I'm probably one of the shortest linemen in the county, so I squat more than most taller linemen just because I have a lower center of gravity so I use my legs a lot more.
Q: Did you think at the beginning of the year that an undefeated season was a possibility?
A: We were good last year. We went 8-2 and we had some big-name guys. Before, [coach Ken Brinkman] would be like, "We've got a really talented team. We're really good this year." He would say, "Believe in it," and after we beat Hereford, 31-21 -- the first time we've ever even been close to beating them. That was when, I think, we all realized the talent that we have here.
Q: Are you thinking about playing football in college?
A: No. I thought about it for a while because I really enjoy playing the game. Since I broke my leg and then over this past summer I had been lifting pretty hard and it really started to hurt. I got it checked out and I have arthritis in my knee, so the harder I lift, the more it gets inflamed. I don't think four years of college lifting is going to help that at all (laughs).
Q: What's an example of a play you've done?
A: My all-time favorite role here was in the play "And Then There Were None." It's an Agatha Christie mystery and I was Sir Lawrence Wargrave. Throughout the whole play, they're trying to figure out who the murderer is. In the end, I have this huge monologue and I tell the audience that I was the murderer. It was a real cynical part, but I enjoyed it a lot.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being on stage?
A: The fact that you can be somebody else for 2 1/2 hours and you can kind of live in their life if it's a different time period or whatever. You don't have to be yourself. And it relates to the football field, too, because for that two hours that you play, nothing else matters but that game. You can be having all the problems in the world, but when you're on stage and you're Sir Lawrence Wargrave, then nothing else matters except for your scenes.
Q: What's something most people don't know about you?
A: I told you my mom got me into theatre when I was in sixth grade. Well, she passed away four years ago when I was 13. Not a lot of people -- unless you know me really well -- will know that.
Q: How did losing your mom so young mold you as a teenager?
A: I think it made me a little more independent. When I was younger, I was real attached to her and she was like my best friend. It made me realize in order to get anywhere in life you have to rely on yourself, so it made me a little more independent, a little more mature. Everybody's a little immature when it comes to certain things, but I like to think of myself as a little bit older than my age.
Q: What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
A: I guess it would be my mom and I actually wrote it in one of my [college] essays. She told me to do whatever made me happy and it's simple, but it stayed with me. That's pretty much the main reason I'm doing theatre, because it just makes me happy.