Athlete of the Issue: Graham Smith ‘23


Graham Smith ’23 #28 runs onto Bennett Field with teammates before winning whiteout game 10-7 against Hinsdale Central on Sept. 9 (Klos/LION).

Sydney Wolf, Sports Editor

Graham Smith ‘23 fell in love with the sport of football at the age of 11 years old. His hard work ethic and determination makes him a star teammate, motivator, and overall perfect example of a student athlete, according to varsity head coach Jon Beutjer

“I feel because of the way he works, he makes others around him better,” Beutjer said. “He sets a great example of how an athlete should work in season and [during] offseason.” 

The role of being one of the team’s four captains means a lot to him, Smith said. He tries to lead by example and makes sure everyone knows he is someone they can come to when they have questions or need help. 

“I want the underclassmen to understand that LT will be a competitive team for years to come,” Smith said. “And that they will play a big part in bringing the team together to take on many victories.”

Smith will be continuing his football career next year at the University of Yale as a tight end. While the college decision process was quite challenging, given the amount of opportunities he received from his 19 offers, Smith said he knew Yale was the right fit. Along with the relationship he was able to build with head coach Tony Reno, he fell in love with the campus and environment. 

“I knew I wanted to go somewhere with good academics,” Smith said. “Yale had everything I wanted and would set me up for life.”

Smith didn’t always play tight end, however. He spent his freshman and sophomore year as a quarterback and made the switch his junior year. Although it wasn’t easy, this proved Smith’s dedication to the team along with his determination to do whatever it takes to win, Beutjer said. 

“It shows he’s a team guy,” Beutjer said. “He’s a ‘we first before me’ guy, and he’s a competitor. Graham just wants to win.”

Fellow captain James Georgelos ‘23, has been playing football with Smith since eighth grade. Georgelos has spent these past four years admiring Smith’s versatility and talent as well as his selfless and hard-working nature, he said. He loves to watch Smith learn and challenge himself to get better.

“I’m excited to see him get many more targets this year,” Georgelos said. “It will be fun to watch him run over defenders and help our team be a threat both in the run and pass game.”

While Smith is choosing to continue his career in football, a second sport occupies his offseason. Since he was 5 years old, Smith played basketball and was determined to play in college. This year will be his second year on LT’s varsity team, and his fourth year with the club team, Breakaway. 

“I always had more fun with football since I wasn’t allowed to play until sixth grade,” Smith said. “When I realized I had a legit chance to go and play high level college football, I started to focus more on working out for it, over basketball.”

Smith would never have gotten this far without the support system he has behind him. His parents have been his biggest motivators for his whole life, he said. They were always there for him with good advice, and always pushed him to go out and get what he wanted.

“There’s nothing that beats Friday night lights,” Smith said. “Especially with our strong student section and the feeling of playing with some of my closest friends. The entire high school football experience is something I will definitely miss.”