Shadle Park High School’s Chase Anderson is a young man of easy intelligence who had to figure out some grown-up things very early in life.
With a mother who has been in and out of jail since he was a boy and a father who has been gone for much of his life, Anderson, 17, found himself moving back and forth between grandparents.
He didn’t want to be like his parents, but he didn’t quite know how to be something else. Then in middle school, he observed that his friends’ parents who had high school diplomas were doing better than those who, like his own parents, did not. And those who had college educations seemed to be doing even better.
“So I knew I’d need to go to college, and to be able to go to college, I’d need scholarships, and to get those, I’d need good grades,” he said. “I don’t especially like school, but I seem to be good at it. I do as much as I need to do to make sure my grades don’t drop, but I can coast quite a lot.”
Anderson will be graduating with a 3.87 g.p.a., took Advanced Placement calculus this year, scored 1,680 on his SATs and already has several scholarships for college. He’s also managed to find time for fun – participating at the state DECA conference (the first time Shadle has gone) and forming the school’s notorious Loud Crowd at basketball games. He plans to attend Eastern Washington University this fall and major in nursing.
His college choice was carefully considered – EWU because it’s close to home and where he can focus on his studies, and nursing because he is drawn to the medical field, because there might be some advantage being male in a traditionally female profession, because there will always be a need for people in the medical field, he figures, and because he likes to help people.
He can also tell you how many openings there are for RNs at local hospitals. This career field is something he’s researched carefully, as he can’t afford to leave things to chance.
Anderson credits John and Connie Towner, parents of his best friend Ryan Towner, with being solid parental role models for him, with John Towner often giving him work to do at his gas station “whenever I needed to make some money. I don’t like to take money without earning it.”
Another major influence in his life has been Shaun Alexander, the Seattle Seahawks’ former running back and the NFL’s MVP in 2005. Anderson and Ryan Towner first met Alexander when the Seahawks held their summer training camp at EWU.
Anderson said he and Towner memorized Bible verses and would recite them for Alexander, who would then spot them in the crowd and ask if they knew specific verses. If they didn’t, they’d go home and learn them and be ready the next day. That was the beginning of the friendship between the football player and the young boys from Spokane, a friendship that continues today.
Alexander, who created a foundation with a goal of helping young men reach their potential and become role models for future generations, has twice paid for them to attend Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer camps in North Carolina.
“He is my Christian mentor,” Anderson said. “He calls and texts, and I can and do call him when I’ve got a bad situation. He’s made me a stronger Christian and is one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met.
“Think about it: here is an athlete paid millions who didn’t have to talk to these 13-year-old kids at training camp, but who took the time to do it. He’s shown us the importance of being good to everyone.”
Alexander has great things to say about Anderson, too: “When I think of Chase, I think of a young man that lives by the rules I’ve tried to live by my whole life – putting God first, setting goals and having fun. Because of that, he will be successful going from high school to college and as a professional.”
Anderson has a successful football story of his own, again putting to good use his determination and ability to figure things out. A two-sport athlete at Shadle, he was a member of the track team (shot put and high jump) and on the offensive line on the football team, of which he was captain.
But he wanted off the line. His coach said he’d need to improve his speed for that to happen, so between his junior and senior years, he worked on that very thing.
The result: He started at wide receiver in his senior year – quite a switch in such a short time, but not such a reach for a young man who has always needed to look ahead to plan and work for the future he wants for himself.