Fourth-grader Hayden Franc’s favorite activity is organizing a pickup football game. He often brings together kids of various ages from around the neighborhood to play outside on a nice day or at recess. He says that while he often hosts in his backyard, other kids take turns hosting a game, as well. When asked about his closest friends, he recites a long list of names, causing me to assume that Hayden’s football games are a neighborhood event not to be missed. He shares that he loves being active and outside, especially when playing his favorite sport.
By Barry Engelhardt
Hayden began playing football in the Momence’s flag football league before transitioning to the Momence Jr. Redskins. Tall and speedy, he classifies himself as the ‘third fastest on the team.’ Hayden is also versatile on the field, shifting between quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. He looks forward to playing under the Friday night lights in high school. He considers neighborhood games a way to have fun with his friends, appreciating that he’s likely also improving his game as a result.
Though he was born in Chicago, Momence is all that Hayden remembers, as his family moved to here before he started preschool. He describes fourth-grade activities as ‘wider in nature,’ suggesting that the subject matter is more complex and takes more time to understand and master. “Classes are harder,” says Hayden with a knowing smile, seeming to enjoy a good challenge.
He especially enjoys math and says that while they’re just settling into a groove for the new school year, he’s working on rounding and grouping. He also enjoys reading and reads chapter books for fun, sharing that he doesn’t have a favorite series, preferring the diversity of reading many different books.
When not in school or playing football, Hayden loves swimming at his cousin’s house. Spending time with family is important to him, and he shares that he’s part of a blended family with six boys. Hayden has four older brothers, and his oldest brother graduated high school in May. He also has one younger brother. While most of his brothers also love football, Hayden admits that not all do. Instead, sometimes they all gather together to watch WWE wrestling.
When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Hayden responds instantly, saying he wants to “follow in my dad’s footsteps and be a police officer.” He adds that his father is a detective in Bourbonnais and that maybe he’ll be a detective one day. As a child who considers his superpower the ability to help others when they’re struggling, Hayden will make an exceptional police officer one day.
When asked to describe the keys to success, Hayden’s answers could pertain to school, football, or life, explaining how simple things can be done consistently to make a profound impact. From being honest to actively listening without interrupting, Hayden shares that the key is to take your time, not to rush.
Always one to tie things back to the football field, Hayden concludes, “Some people don’t listen that much in the huddle, and then they go back on the field and admit they don’t know what they’re doing.” Whether on the field or in the classroom, Hayden believes you must pay attention in the huddle so that no matter what happens, you can finish with your head held high, knowing you gave it your all.
As a child who considers his superpower the ability to help others when they’re struggling, Hayden will make an exceptional police officer one day.