ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL)- In our new digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Brett Lingerfelt, a senior on the Unicoi Co. boys basketball team.
The trick to excellence in sports starts with hard work.
“Basketball is like a tradition, it’s something we take with great pride being a Blue Devil it’s something you take to heart,” Unicoi boys basketball senior Brett Lingerfelt said.
Lingerfelt is a clear example of that.
“High school is just a different level, it’s by far the most competitive thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Lingerfelt said.
“You never have to question his effort and that’s half the battle he’s a coach’s dream because he competes he doesn’t let maybe a lack of height or lack of athletic ability to stop him he’s gonna compete and give you everything he has,” Unicoi boys basketball head coach John Good said.
Standing at 5’8″ Lingerfelt worked his way to being one of the Blue Devils best players, and a lethal shooter.
“As a whole I think we’ve had some up’s and down’s but when we’re playing well we’re a good team,” Lingerfelt said.
“I wish he would shoot more I’ve told him to ‘shoot shoot shoot’ and he’s like ‘I don’t think you really want me to shoot’ and I’m like ‘I do’ because every time he shoots you think it’s gonna go in,” Good said.
He’s a senior now and his Unicoi basketball career is starting to wind down.
“It’s fun but it’s heartbreaking at the same time I know it’s my last year of high school and that’s awful but man it’s been fun,” Lingerfelt said.
But he will continue to work hard throughout the spring. He won’t be grabbing a baseball bat or soccer ball. He’s working with rubber bands and balsa wood.
“You build a little simple airplane made out of balsa wood and Mylar made for the wing coverings,” TSA advisor Stacy Tipton said.
“Every time you let it go your heart jumps you want it to fly well so very badly but to sit here and watch it fly it’s peaceful,” Lingerfelt said.
Lingerfelt is in the CTE (Career and Technical Education) program at Unicoi Co. High School.
“I’m in drafting which is a knockoff of engineering so I designed, built, and flown this plane for two years now,” Lingerfelt said.
He built his own aerodynamic plane, with supplies you can probably find on Amazon.
“You take pieces of rubber and tie them together into a loop and wind it up with a winder and it turns the prop and that’s the power that is supplied to the airplane and we’ve seen flight times up to three minutes off of just a rubber band you know which is pretty amazing,” Tipton said.
“The whole plane weighs around seven grams in total so the idea is to keep it as light as possible, that way it’ll stay in the air as long as possible,” Lingerfelt said.
So they got to work, he built his first plane which took off better than he thought.
“Last year he won 1st place in Regionals which we have over here at Grey locally and then he won 1st place at States which is in Chattanooga every year and then he placed top 5 in Nationals in Washington, D.C. so he’s done very well his first year of competition and this year he’s also won regional so we’re going on to state in a few weeks and hope to have another winning record this year,” Tipton said.
Had a strong first year, then got back to work over the summer, to get better, just like he did for basketball.
“He was in here this summer and before the season practicing on flying his airplane just as much as he was focused on practicing shooting three-pointers,” Good said.
It’s an interesting extracurricular activity for an athlete, get finished with a physical workout and go to a brain-twister like this.
“They correlate, you gotta think on your feet cause in the game you don’t know what the defense or offense is doing and with the plane you don’t know how high the room will be if the A/C is gonna be on or how wide or tall it can be all this stuff you gotta think on your feet,” Lingerfelt said.
It goes back to the root of an athlete’s success, a competitor’s success: hard work on and off the court.
“Oh yeah I love it, just something you put so much time and effort to and watch it work the way you want to and actually get in the air and do its job, it’s extremely satisfying,” Lingerfelt said.
“You want kids to be well-rounded not just focused on one thing and he does a great job of when it’s basketball he’s focused on basketball when it’s academics he’s focused on academics when it’s dating his girlfriend he’s focused on her when it’s flying airplanes he’s focused on that competition so he’s gonna be successful in anything that he attempts to do,” Good said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.