Top of the list: Traverse City St. Francis three-sport star Charlie Peterson stands out as 2022 Record-Eagle Male Athlete of the Year | Sports

TRAVERSE CITY – One of Charlie Peterson’s earliest memories is straight out of pure Americana.

The recent graduate from Traverse City St. Francis still remembers being just 3 years old and playing catch with his dad in their backyard. Even then, the toddler had a cannon strapped to his left arm.

“I was just hurting my hand when I was throwing,” Peterson fondly recalls with a laugh. “That’s when I knew I loved baseball.”

The seeds of Peterson’s passion for the national pastime were likely planted at an even younger age. The talented southpaw said the smooth white skin and raised red laces of a baseball was the first thing he ever held in his hands.

“It does anyway,” he said. “Baseball has always been my first love. I just go there and everything that happens in my life goes away.

But Peterson’s athletic acumen isn’t limited to baseball. As a senior for the Gladiators, he excelled and set records as the football team’s starting quarterback, then dipped his toes back into basketball waters after a two-year hiatus.

His successes on the grill, hardwood and diamond are the reason Peterson earned the highest honor as the 2021-22 Record-Eagle Male Athlete of the Year. Julia Flynn of Traverse City Central was named Female Athlete of the Year after winning Runner of the Year honors in cross country and track and field.

“I love the sporting aspect of ‘We’ve got our guy. You’ve got your guy. Let’s see who’s the best,’” Peterson said. “I love being a part of this and getting the chance to prove myself. It’s great and I never get tired of it. »

This will to win and competitive nature were ingrained in his personality from an early age as the little brother of twins Casey and Cooper Peterson, who also enjoyed their fair share of athletic success at St. Francis.

From making clothes in the laundry basket to climbing stairs, it was all a competition between Charlie and his two older brothers. It’s something the tri-sport athlete cherishes as they get older.

“They had such an impact on my life in so many meaningful ways,” Peterson said. “Growing up, I felt like I faced them every day. Now I realize it’s us against everyone else. It’s brought us closer together and they’ve been there for me every step of the way.

It’s what made Peterson the “one more game” guy and the “raise it” guy.

“If you ask anyone in my family or anyone I know, they’ll probably tell you I’m the most competitive person they know,” he said. “I like to compete and I like to win. Going here to (St. Francis) has given me the chance to do that a lot.

Peterson’s competitive engine is still running. He considered dropping a few sports in eighth grade to focus on football or baseball, but realized he didn’t have to limit himself to just one. Peterson saw the benefits playing football had on his basketball and baseball skills, how playing basketball helped his speed in football and baseball, and how baseball strengthened him mentally in everything. what he does.

“It’s all connected,” he says. “I’m just happy to have played as many sports as possible. I feel like I got the most out of my high school experience, and that’s what I’m happiest about.

Peterson began his senior year with St. Francis setting records as a college football team quarterback with 1,876 passing yards and 22 passing touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions. He also ran for four more touchdowns and caught one, and Peterson earned first-team All-State honors from The Associated Press and the Michigan Football Coaches Association.

St. Francis went 12-1 in Peterson’s senior campaign, losing in the state championship semifinals to eventual state champion Pewamo-Westphalia, 28-21. In their 12 wins, the Gladiators have amassed 60+ points four times, 50+ points five times, 40+ points 10 times and 30+ points all 12 times – an average of 50 net points per game with Peterson under the center.

“Since I was this tall,” Peterson said, gesturing about 3 feet tall, “I wanted to be the quarterback for the Gladiators. That’s all I ever wanted to grow up. I’m happy to have been able to achieve this and to do so at a high level.

Peterson was also happy to leave his mark on the program, and he thanked his teammates for helping him do so.

“We kind of changed things up offensively, and it worked really well,” he said. “I had good numbers, but a lot of that comes down to my teammates. These guys were unreal and really made me look good.

During Peterson’s two years in college, St. Francis head coach Josh Sellers saw tremendous growth from his quarterback.

“I don’t think he was as confident in his abilities under center as he was at the juniors. The game slowed down a bit for him in his senior year,” Sellers said. “When he threw the ball, he threw it with confidence.”

Peterson agreed, adding that the mental leap from his junior to senior year was “huge”. He said he had never been so relaxed on a football pitch as in his senior year.

“When I was a junior, every time a passing play was called, I started to stress thinking I had to prove myself every play,” he said. “I came into senior year and was a little more settled and so much more relaxed. I felt like the game was moving in slow motion.

The Sellers had confidence in Peterson to follow a St. Francis program that had historically and primarily been a first-run team to one that opened the passing game.

“There’s a reason we got to the finals two years ago and to the semis this year, and it had a lot to do with him,” Sellers said of Peterson.

Sellers attribute much of this to the environment Peterson grew up in and Peterson’s talent for learning and then putting that knowledge into practice.

“He’s always positive and upbeat,” Sellers said. “He still has an attitude that it can be done. He is a very intelligent young man. I would call him worldly and wise beyond his years. It is a person who attracts you and whom you want to rub shoulders with.

Much of that draw comes from Peterson’s light-hearted personality.

St. Francis Varsity Boys’ Basketball Head Coach Sean Finnegan described Peterson as “goofball” in the most positive and complementary way possible.

“He brought a lot of fun and excitement and good energy to practice in a way that we didn’t have,” Finnegan said. “It was fun having Charlie around. He had different jokes and sayings and kept it light. He’s a funny, witty lad.

Although Peterson is a fiery competitor, he knows that the whole point of playing a game is also having a good time.

“I like to have a lot of fun when I play sports,” Peterson said. “It’s always been an outlet for me, in that regard. I take this seriously and do my best to impact the win, but I still think you can have fun anytime.

And what better way to have fun than playing a game with your friends? It was what brought Peterson back to basketball his senior year, answering Adam Gerberding’s call to return to the hardwood for his final round.

“I’ve always loved competition, and basketball was another way to do that,” Peterson said. “During those two years that I quit basketball, I felt like there was a void. I was always looking forward to playing baseball because I hadn’t faced someone right in front of me. from me for so long.

Although Peterson didn’t play basketball as a sophomore or junior, Finnegan said he fit right in as a senior.

“He integrated into the team and played an important role as a senior,” he said. “He’s a good teammate, he always encourages the guys and he’s happy when they do well. He’s a team player and he wanted to win and succeed, but he didn’t care about his own stats. He wanted the best for the team.

Peterson helped the Glads go undefeated in the Lake Michigan Conference and finish the season with a 19-3 record, with their only regular season losses coming to Division 1 teams. Finnegan said there were learning curves for Peterson in terms of the X’s and O’s of basketball, but the eldest learned them quickly.

“He was very impressive,” Finnegan said. “About halfway through the season, he finally came up and dove a two-handed and was like, ‘Man, that was pretty easy.’ We said, ‘Yeah, we want you to keep doing that. Get up there, put it down, be aggressive. He would sometimes do things that would make your jaw drop because he was getting up and giving the felt like it was easy.

Peterson ended his high school athletic career with another First-Team All-State selection, this time from the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association as a pitcher. The southpaw won a school-best 14 games, going 14-2 in 19 games pitched, pitching 76 innings with a 0.73 ERA (just eight earned runs) with a measly 0.69 WHIP (36 hits authorized, 17 steps). He also struck out 117 batters.

Peterson helped the Gladiators to conference, district and regional championships before St. Francis lost in the state quarterfinals to Standish-Sterling.

“Charlie has had a fantastic season for us,” said St. Francis baseball head coach Tom Passinault. “His stats are incredible.”

Peterson was also excellent at home plate. He hit for better than a .500 average and was always clutch, batting .533 with runners in scoring position. His leadership as a senior was invaluable, Passinault said, as he helped lead a young team with three freshman starters.

Peterson took great pride in helping young players, doing his best to pass on his knowledge of the game to the next generation of gladiators.

“I would tell them, ‘Relax. This is not the end of the world. There’s still a lot of play left,” Peterson said. “These guys have just grown in two weeks into players that you know are going to be really good.”

Peterson will go from mentoring freshmen to freshman himself when he joins the baseball team at Kalamazoo College, where the recent high school graduate has signed up to play.

“I’m never as calm as when I’m on the baseball field, so the ability to do this for four more years is truly a blessing,” he said.

Being a Traverse City St. Francis Gladiator was also a blessing.

“I am super grateful to all my teammates. I loved playing with each of them. And I’m very grateful to my family for allowing me to come here,” Peterson said. “It was not a guarantee. It could have been taken away at any time, but I ended up finishing my career here, and I’m just super happy with how it turned out.

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