When J.J. Fought graduates from Whitmer High School in June, he admits he will miss the school. The school will likely miss him even more.
The son of Panther football coach Dan Fought ranks second in his class of 463 with a 4.44 grade-point average, a mark achieved while Fought has been a three-year varsity starter in football, basketball and baseball.
"It's sort of depressing knowing this is my last high school season," Fought said. "I know I'll never play football again. I'm going to try to walk on and play baseball at Miami [Ohio], so hopefully this isn't my last baseball season."
In football, he helped lead Whitmer into the Division I state playoffs the past two seasons, earning City League player of the year and first-team All-Ohio honors at quarterback last fall.
"In my 21 years of coaching he was the ultimate team player you would want," Dan Fought said. "He does the right things when it comes to the community, the classroom, the team and at home.
"He's the kind of student-athlete that comes along maybe once in a lifetime for most coaches, the kind that makes you wish you were in the pros and could sign him to a 10-year contract."
In basketball, Fought was a steady three-year guard for the Panthers, and in baseball the shortstop/leadoff hitter has batted .408 with six home runs, 41 RBIs, 83 runs scored and 46 stolen bases in his career, and posted a 4-1 pitching record with three saves and a 2.20 ERA.
"J.J. is a very heady player," Whitmer baseball coach Gary O'Connor said. "He's one of those kids who studies the game and works extra at it. He's the first one at the field and the last one to leave."
"I like the challenge of hitting," Fought said. "I think hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports, and I like going one-on-one with the pitcher."
Sacrificing social time on school nights helped Fought balance academics and athletics.
"I wouldn't want to do it any other way," he said of the year-round play. "I think I'd be bored at home. I take a couple days off after each sport. Those couple days are nice, but I don't think I could've done that for a long time. I like being a part of the school and everything that goes with sports."
Father Dan played the same three sports at Gibsonburg, mother Patti (formerly Slupecki), competed in volleyball, basketball and track at Whitmer, and sister Mandi, a Whitmer junior, competes in volleyball, gymnastics and softball.
"I try not to use my body for excuses, but I can't go to a D-I college and play football because I'm so small," Fought said of his favorite sport. "They're looking for a 6-4 quarterback weighing over 200 pounds."
At Miami, nearly half of Fought's $32,000 yearly cost will be offset by academic scholarships.
"He's a special kid," O'Connor said, "one of those you know is going to succeed wherever he goes or whatever he does. I just hope baseball's a part of it."
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