From the Field to the Stage

For three high school football players, the Friday Night Lights aren’t the only lights they will be under this fall.  Junior Fender Boswell, and seniors AJ Stafford and Michkeal Kennedy will also shine on the stage in this year’s fall musical, All Shook Up

Fender, who plays tight end and linebacker, will play the lead role of “Chad” and Michkeal who plays defensive tackle and AJ who serves as the team’s quarterback will play supporting character roles as the bartender and shoe shopper. 

Michkeal and AJ are both third year musical theater students and each expressed that they appreciate how different the atmosphere is from football.  “Football is such a physical and tough sport,” shared Michkeal. “I like the energy that musical theater brings.  It is a completely different environment and has provided me with a new way to express myself and given me more confidence.”  

AJ, who played “Beast” in last year’s musical Beauty and the Beast, shared that while football requires physical energy, musical theater demands emotional energy. “I like that theater challenges me mentally and emotionally,” he said. 

The three athletes were also quick to express their appreciation to head football coach Marvin Sedberry and head theater teacher Amanda Guthrie for being willing to work with their schedules.  “It’s nice to do what I love without having to give anything up,” shared Fender. “When another coach mentioned I was not present for tutorials, Coach Sedberry defended me and said ‘He’s at musical rehearsals.’” 

Coach Sedberry is happy to provide his players with new experiences. “Athletics and fine arts programs are vital to school success,” he shared.  “Fine arts play a pivotal role in our school culture, and as a coach, my goal is to support and help students explore their personal interests and develop their leadership potential.”

Ms. Guthrie shared that she and Coach Sedberry make it work for the students. “The students stay in constant communication with both of us and Coach Sedberry allows them to miss mandatory tutorials on Wednesdays as long as they maintain A’s in all of their classes.  Coach also allows them to focus on the musical the week of the show. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it,” she said. 

When the musical opens on Friday, November 3, the three actors feel confident their teammates will also show up to support them.  “My teammates have been supportive,” shared AJ.  “Yeah, they clown us about it, but they are impressed and intrigued by it all at the same time,” he said. 

And while Coach Sedberry has taught them discipline and respect, Ms. Guthrie has helped them to build their confidence and learn how to hone in on their mental health. Both of which are extremely important in developing well-rounded individuals to go from the field to the stage.