Wyatt Gearhart has always loved sports.
“I played soccer when I was really little, and then baseball,” he says. “Basketball I started playing in third grade, and then football in fourth grade.”
It was those later sports that really stuck for Wyatt, and today the Walkersville Middle School eighth grader is playing year-round basketball and football in season.
“I like it’s about a team,” he says. “It’s not one person doing everything.”
“He loves sports,” Wyatt’s mother Abby confirms. “I think he just loves the games.”
That love has translated into Wyatt realizing his strengths on the court and in the field, playing point guard or power forward in basketball and capitalizing on his natural talent at defense and passing, while in football his speed and strength come to the fore.
But loving sports as he does, Wyatt has also come to recognize those areas where he could stand to develop further. His blocking in football, his shooting and timing in basketball. And given he’s not yet in high school, just guiding his overdevelopment as an athlete.
And so, about a year and a half ago, Wyatt first checked out Players Fitness and Performance, in Frederick.
“I feel like the trainers are relatable, like they know what you were going through. They know all the good exercises for what your weaknesses are and how to improve them,” Wyatt says. “I tried it out and ever since then I've gone like, three times a week. I haven't missed a day.”
It can be a little daunting for anyone when they first enter a training and weightlifting environment, Abby notes, but with PFP, “They just make it so easy to come in and feel at home,” she says. “And far from being intimidated, maybe by someone who lifts more, all the kids lift each other up and cheer each other on.”
And in many ways, younger athletes like Wyatt, who are growing in strength and size naturally at their age, can really benefit from skill and work and pre-hab to prevent injuries, according to PFP Coach Travis Bewley.
“With kids playing sports year-round nowadays, with that stress on their bodies, along with growing pains, they’re going to get sore shoulders and things,” he says. “So with Wyatt, what we’ve had to do is give him things that are a little more vanilla, a little boring, but things that at the end of the day will get him out of pain, which is what we need him to focus on before getting strength and power development.”
It’s an approach that works.
“When I was having really bad growing pains in my knee, they had me stretching it out and it really helped,” Wyatt says.
And he has gotten stronger too and improved his rhythm and accuracy on the court.
“I feel like I’m smarter, more confident,” Wyatt says. “I don’t get in my own head as much before games.”
Abby has seen it too.
“Every athlete makes mistakes, and before when he made a mistake, he’d be really hard himself visibly,” she says “And now he's able to just make that mistake and be OK with it. To just keep playing. That’s hard to do sometimes.”
Indeed, when it came time to select PFP’s Athlete of the Month for October, Wyatt stood out not just because of his commitment to the gym and his improvements in strength and conditioning, but in his maturity, focus and that consistency they brought.
“He stayed consisted in a society that is easily distracted, and that’s huge,” Bewley says. “The maturity, the consistency. He’s playing year-round, he’s being an impact player, his grades are good. He’s checking all the boxes to be a successful human, not just a successful athlete. That’s what it’s all about.”
What Wyatt is about right now is finishing his football season, getting ready for basketball tryouts, and thinking about what he wants to do in high school. He’s planning on playing sports then, and Bewley is already helping him with his goal to begin to dunk on the court.
And thinking more long term, “I’ve always wanted to get into a college for D1 sports,” Wyatt says. And after that?
“I've always kind of wanted to be like a sports broadcaster because I really like sports,” he says.
That’s why for now Wyatt’s just working to become the best athlete he can be. He just loves sports, it’s where he finds joy.
That’s Wyatt Gearhart’s Why. What’s your why?