Bainbridge High School senior football star Alex Ledbetter was recognized Friday, Sept. 13 by the Seattle Seahawks and CenturyLink as this year’s first Seahawks and CenturyLink High School Athlete of the Week during a special lunchtime presentation in the school’s Commons.
He was chosen, program officials said, based on his dedication to academics, community involvement, leadership, and athletic performance.
Ledbetter, who led the Spartans to a historic victory against the island squad’s longtime rivals from North Kitsap in the season’s first outing just the week before, claiming the prized Agate Cup, will again be recognized on the biggest gridiron around, CenturyLink Field, on Oct. 3, when the Seahawks take on the Los Angeles Rams.
From the award announcement: “[Ledbetter] holds a 3.9 GPA while taking several AP courses and acting as captain of the football team. After a torn ACL his sophomore year kept him off the baseball team, Alex used his time off to become an umpire for his community’s Little League team.
“Alex also volunteers as a reading tutor for at-risk youth and has given many hours to community Rotary events and youth sports camps. Through his community service, Alex has been a role model to kids, teaching them to value education over athletics. Despite setbacks, he remained positive and dedicated to both athletics and academics.”
The award, along with rewards and prizes — tickets and sideline passes to the Seahawks/Rams game, a personalized team jersey, a custom football and a giant check for an athletic department grant of $1,000 — was presented to Ledbetter by CenturyLink representatives and one of the Seahawks dancers.
According to program officials, a total of $10,000 will be awarded to high schools across the region this year.
Ledbetter said he was proud to represent his school, but slightly uncomfortable being the center of attention off the field.
“I’m not really one that likes the spotlight that much, but I am really grateful and honored to have won this award,” he said.
“I try my best to represent the school the best that I can, and it’s awesome — I don’t even know what to say. I’m at a loss for words for how great this is.”
The stellar Spartan QB said the previous week’s win against the Vikings was the latest in a series of steps in the right direction for the program, which had previously struggled to compete in the notoriously tough Metro League.
“I think this is just the beginning of Spartan football,” he said. “I think we’re on our way to something special.
“It’s coming back,” Ledbetter added. “We have like 20 freshmen this year signed up. We’re building the program. I think as people see how much fun we’re having out there, how much success we’re having — everyone wants to be a part of it. Even last year, during the season, we had kids joining every day, new players joining during the season after we had kind of established ourselves.”
Ledbetter said he would be inviting a fellow senior Spartan, lineman Sio Peato — who was widely recognized as the unofficial MVP of the NK win — to attend the Seahawks-Rams game with him.
Though the Agate Cup victory may have come as a shock to many, and was a historic upset in the team’s long-running rivalry, Ledbetter said the Spartans were less than surprised.
“We were all very confident we were going to win,” he said. “Even though the Kitsap Sun didn’t think we were going to win, North Kitsap definitely didn’t think we were going to win, and probably, honestly, some of our own fans didn’t expect it, but our coach really preaches visualizing,” he said. “If you want something, you have to believe you’re going to get there.”
BHS Head Coach Jeff Rouser was also in attendance at last Friday’s award ceremony and praised the Seahawks and CenturyLink officials for their astute selection of recipient.
“You could not have selected a better person for this award,” Rouser said. “I know there are a lot of people, there are probably thousands of players you could choose, but this guy exemplifies everything you said. When you talk about positive leadership, when you talk about someone who exemplifies commitment, passion, all those things — I’m not sugarcoating this; I’m telling you that Alex has been that from the beginning.”
Even so, there was precious little time to revel last Friday.
Later that afternoon, the Spartans traveled to play their second game of the season, against Olympic High School. They will return home to host Interlake at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20.