By Steve Williams
This is the busiest time of the year for Michael Human, but he’s good enough of an athlete to handle it.
Michael plays golf and football for Grace Christian Academy, two sports that overlap particularly in the months of August and September.
And his junior year is going great so far. He won two of GCA’s first three golf matches of the season, while also preparing for the upcoming football campaign as a starting cornerback and being in the receiver rotation of the Rams’ pass-happy offense.
Both first-year head golf coach Andrew Gouge and head football coach Rusty Bradley are okay with sharing Human’s talents.
“Michael did this last year and it was definitely a busy fall for him, but he’s such a good athlete,” said Bradley. “He works really hard. He does a good job of managing his time.”
If it’s a day the golf team is having a match, Human usually plays with the golf team. If both teams are just practicing, he’s with the football team.
The golf season starts earlier than football and ends around the middle of football’s regular season.
“It’s always difficult as a high school player when you’re trying to do two different sports, but he seems to be managing pretty well right now,” said Coach Gouge. “We do the best we can to work with him and kind of let him go where he wants to go. But he’s been doing a great job out here so far.”
Michael loves both sports and found it hard to choose one over the other.
“I’ve been playing them both my whole life,” he said.
As a freshman, Human played only golf. Last year, he got back into football too.
He got off to a great start in golf this year, firing a 35 to win at Beaver Brook in a match against Hardin Valley Academy, Powell and Halls.
In his third match last week at Dead Horse Lake, he carded a 38 over nine holes to prevail against L&N STEM Academy.
Instead of playing in Thursday’s match against Maryville and Alcoa at the Egwani Farms course in Blount County, Human practiced football. Grace Christian opens its season Aug. 23 against Stone Memorial in Crossville.
Human, a 6-foot, 180-pounder, doesn’t have a favorite position in football.
“Anywhere they put me, I’ll do my best,” he said.
He admits that playing two sports puts him behind a little in football.
“It kind of does, missing the practices, missing reps, but it all works out I guess.”
Human, whose father Mike was a quarterback at West High and Maryville College, also played baseball and basketball growing up.
Michael has played golf as far back as he can remember.
“My dad took me out and we started playing probably when I was around 5 or 6 years old and I still remember going out there for the first time.”
As an eighth grader, Human tied for first place in the state middle school tournament and lost in a playoff hole.
“My freshman year I did okay,” he said. “I didn’t play good my sophomore year, so I’m trying to make a run this year and see what I can do.”
He’s been putting in extra practice time on the weekends and plays year round when it’s not too cold.
“The practice is paying off,” he said.
One of Human’s goals is to get back to the state.
“He has a ton of potential,” said Coach Gouge. “He comes out here and he just looks like he’s always calm and doesn’t really let the mind game get to him too much.
“He’s pretty consistent, so the more he can fine tune a few areas, I think he can be a really strong player. I’ve even told him I think he could be a contender for a potential state, if not this year, maybe next year, if he could work out a little bit more. But he’s been doing a great job handling both sports.”
Human’s long-range goal is to play college golf.
“I’m trying to work on golf and see if I can get a scholarship,” he said. “But as far as football, I’m probably not going to play in college.”
On missing some practice time in football, Coach Bradley says Michael is good at checking to see what the team went over.
“Usually if he misses a day with us, it’s a Tuesday or Thursday and just a walk-through.”
As a football player, Bradley says Human has great hands, change of direction and ball skills.
“He’s very athletic, with natural good instincts, a lot of things that you really don’t coach. You just have it or you don’t and he has it.”
While some high school coaches want their athletes to play only their game, Bradley is not that way.
“These guys have only one chance to be in high school,” he said. “They need to experience it to the fullest. Michael is too good of a golfer to not play golf and he’s too good at football to not play football. I’d rather have Michael and what we can get out of him than not to have him at all. I think the golf team feels the same way.”
“Michael is a great young man,” added Coach Gouge. “We’re really proud of him and glad he is representing us at Grace.”