EWING, Va. (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 Jason Cowden, a rising senior football player at Thomas Walker High School.
As Spring begins its transition to Summer, high school football players have their eyes fixed on the Fall.
“It affects us a lot because during the summertime that’s when you get to work out a lot of the kinks that you really need to get worked out,” Thomas Walker rising senior football player Jason Cowden said.
These high school coaches are big on offseason workouts.
“You know we always tell our kids you know who you can depend on on the field by who was with you sweating bleeding during the summer so obviously that’s the biggest thing is they’re missing out on that time together,” Thomas Walker head football coach Nick Johnson said.
But last week, the VHSL canceled all high school summer offseason workouts.
“It’s not great news when you hear it but I think things are going in the right direction,” Johnson said.
The Thomas Walker football team was certainly bummed to hear the news, but these kids are finding unique ways to stay in shape.
“I’ve got a kid that works at a feed mill so he’s throwing 50 pound bags of feed all day long I’ve got other kids that take big tree limbs on them and put cinder blocks on them and making a bench press out of them,” Johnson said.
Jason Cowden has a less extreme, but still effective plan in place.
“I also have a real good friend of mine that lives close to here that comes down here and he’s not the best at throwing the football but he helped me get through it he helps me run my routes and stuff I try anything I can to get better even though we’re off the field,” Cowden said.
Cowden is a defensive end with a downhill playing style; his speed and athleticism helped him win the all-district defensive lineman of the year award.
“I used to not be very good at defensive end especially my freshman year I tried it out a little bit coach put me there sometimes beginning of my sophomore year didn’t do a very good job but I worked a lot during the offseason and during the season both and I think that got me to where I am now,” Cowden said.
He can also make some big time plays at wide receiver, and has grown into a leader for the Pioneers.
“He was voted as a team captain as a junior last year and he’s one of those guys that everybody looks to, he’ll give you every ounce of energy that he has when he’s on the field it’s never a question,” Johnson said.
He also carries those qualities off the field, giving to the community through his ROTC program at Thomas Walker, and in the Jonesville Rescue Squad.
“I’m the battalion medic down there so I didn’t really know a lot about it at the time but once I started doing it and doing little things here and there I was like you know this would be pretty cool to do as a career so I applied down there to the rescue squad and I really enjoy it down there it’s a lot of fun helping people out when you can,” Cowden said.
Cowden isn’t ready to give up on his dreams of playing in college, but right now he’s focused on staying safe and getting back to football.
“I was pretty upset I was really looking forward to getting back on the field but you can’t help it it’s better that everybody stay safe instead of we risk something happening,” Cowden said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.