Ben Haight has one weakness.
The Coupeville High School junior, an imposing force on the football field, a young man who not only hiked the arduous Chilkoot trail in Canada, but was tabbed “The Sherpa on Steroids” for his exploits on the trail originally used by gold rushers (more on that later), the founder of a small business (Whidbey EcoWood Products, which builds planter boxes from skids and pallets, recycling discarded wood), has been tripped up once.
Specifically a 9th grade crafts class where he was given an A-, the only stumbling block in his pursuit of a perfect 4.0 GPA. A National Honor Society scholar who wants to be a civil engineer, he carries a tough course load, including upper math, Spanish and college prep English. Just no more crafts.
“Ben is not much of a ‘crafts’ person,” joked mom Solea Kennedy-Metzger. “He is very logical and a serious student.”
He’s also a beast on the gridiron, where he patrols the lines for the Wolves and keeps his own counsel. A lunch pail-carrying guy who enjoys life in the trenches and leaves the trash talking to others.
“He is the quietest kid I have ever known,” said Coupeville coach Tony Maggio. “That makes him one of my favorite kids!”
A native of Juneau, Alaska (his dad is a police investigator there), Haight moved to the Island with his mom in 2008. After attending the Whidbey Island Academy and the Cedar School, he transitioned to public school as a freshman. Football, which he started playing at age eight, provided an immediate link with his classmates.
“My whole family was very into the sport of football when I started and they encouraged me to join,” Haight said. “I have stuck with it because I like the camaraderie between teammates and I enjoy the feeling of adrenaline that accompanies making a good play.”
He’s continually working on fine-tuning his skill set and building strength, an important part of holding his own as a lineman.
“I don’t think I have any particularly outstanding strengths in football, but I consider myself a fairly well balanced player as far as speed, strength, endurance and resilience,” Haight said. “For a lineman, my speed compensates for my lack of strength — in relation to the other linemen.
“I am constantly trying to become stronger as my position requires a significant amount of this quality, but aside from that I dedicate a lot of time to improving all of the abilities I need for this sport,” he added.
An avid video game player who is also a “Star Wars” buff and fan of TV shows like “Chuck,” “Monk” and “Psych,” Haight can handle himself on a shooting range, whether on Whidbey or in Alaska with older brother Theo. On the field, he remains proudest of Coupeville taking back The Bucket after a six-year drought.
“Our victory at South Whidbey was a great experience and one of the most exciting football games I have been involved in for a while,” Haight said.
Sharing the win with his teammates made it special, he said.
“All of my teammates, from 8th grade to this season, have been very supportive of me,” Haight said. “We all make sure to try to keep each other up, even in difficult times.”
That willingness to support his teammates, regardless of the situation, takes us back to Canada, where Haight carved out his own Forrest Gump-style legend last summer.
The 33-mile Chilkoot Trail, originally used during the Klondike Gold Rush, is littered with steep, slippery areas, and some of his hiking companions struggled with carrying their packs through those areas. Haight responded by hiking ahead, dropping his own pack, then running back and picking up the other hiker’s packs (and occasionally the hiker themselves) and hauling them out, again and again.
On the playing field or on the trail, Haight never leaves a fallen soldier behind. One more reason Coupeville coaches love the young man.