Figuring out the relationships in Northwest Christian senior Austin Friedly’s family is like something out of a brain-teaser puzzle book. Start with this one: When he was 5 years old, his biological mother became his sister.
Actually, it’s not that difficult to decipher. Friedly’s early years were not without considerable drama, and when he was 5, his grandparents adopted him, while his father kept his younger brother and his sister was adopted by cousins. He now has five biological siblings.
Of course, those times are less painful as Friedly looks back now, but when his adoptive mother/grandmother first explained the issues that led to some hard decisions, he was angry with just about everyone, he says.
“At first, it was very hard to deal with, but as time went on I realized that God had put me in the best position out of all my siblings,” he said. “It’s tough going through that at a young age, but it also helped mold my character and who I am now. What I realized the most is that I love kids and want to work with them so they’re not experiencing the same things I did.”
Those aren’t just words to Friedly, either. He’s been on three mission trips to Nicaragua, working with an orphanage on two of them. Eventually, he hopes to study abroad and return to Central America for mission work.
“I play soccer with the kids and try to provide whatever else they need. Obviously the kids I work with aren’t coming from stable families, and they need father figures,” he said. “The hardest thing is always when I have to leave.”
At NWC, Friedly has been an honor student, involved in ASB activities, and has made his mark athletically in soccer and basketball – he’s been a member of state-championship teams in both sports.
“Playing sports has given me an outlet that I need,” he said, “and the relationships that I’ve created with my teammates and coaches are huge.”
He enjoys a close relationship with Northwest Christian Principal Ray Ricks, who doubles as the Crusaders boys basketball coach.
“My mom works at the school,” Friedly said, “and I duck into Coach Ricks’ office all the time. We talk about basketball and life. He’s been a great mentor to me, and it’s been a joy to be part of the athletic program.”
Ricks has high praise for Friedly. “I was his elementary school principal, too,” he said, “so I’ve known Austin for as long as I can remember. I see a kid who, on his way from being a boy to being a man, has begun to take his faith more seriously, started to see beyond himself.
“On team trips, he’s the guy who begins discussions, which often involve thinking about life and the direction he wants to go. He’s been a leader by example, with an easygoing temperament but lots of backbone. Lots of kids want to make a difference, but Austin has lived it out. He’s ready to go.”