Humans of Harker: Much more than an athlete

Marcus Anderson leads with selflessness and compassion both on and off the field


Vishnu Kannan

“I’ve learned from a young age that I play better when I’m angry, so I try to take my aggression out when I’m playing, and that helps me to try to calm myself outside of the game. It’s helped me be able to focus all of my energy and anger towards a certain goal, instead of just holding it in. I take my anger out on the field, and then become a more happy and calm person off the field,” Marcus Anderson (12) said.

“Set, hut!” the quarterback shouts, and the offense comes to life. Dropping back with the offensive line and running back in pass protection, the quarterback surveys the field, looking for an open target. The tight end, initially lined up in the slot to the right of the formation, pretends to settle in the flat on a quick out. With a quick flip of hips, he turns upfield right inside the numbers, catching the cornerback defending him in man to man coverage off guard. Meanwhile, the quarterback, sensing the left side of the pocket collapsing, begins to roll to the right, and in desperation with the defensive line closing in on him, throws up a 50-50 ball to his tight end in the endzone with a defender draped all over him. Not many would be able to catch this jump ball, but Marcus Anderson (12) certainly can. Vying position in the endzone, Marcus leaps into the air, reaching over his defender’s head and snatching the ball out of the air for a gain of six.

Marcus began playing football at the age of six, when his father signed him up for Pop Warner, the largest youth football organization in the United States. Since then, football has been a staple in Marcus’ life, and he singles out the team camaraderie aspect of the sport as what he enjoys most about it.

“There’s something different from football to all the other sports that I’ve played. Every Friday night, [the team has] to go out there and play for each other, not just ourselves,” Marcus said. “We spend around five months straight with one another, from June around the end of school to the end of November, so that’s really just brought my friends closer to me and brought other people into my friends circle that I would have never met without football.”

Since joining Harker in the fifth grade, Marcus has played football and baseball alongside his close friends Nicholas Coulter (12) and Levi Sutton (12) every year.

“It’s probably one of the most special things, and one of the most fun things that I’ve had in my life,” Marcus said, reflecting on the experience. “Just being able to play with my best friends every day throughout the year and in the sports that we love.”

Off the field, Marcus describes himself as a “goofball who likes to make people laugh,” a quality of his that his adviser, Kerry Enzensperger, can attest to.

“[When I first met] Marcus on freshman service day on the field, it was a really hot day, and I turned around looking for my advisory, and Marcus is sitting in a bucket of water,” Enzensperger said, laughing. “He’s a goofball, he’s fun and he’s silly.”

But on the field, Marcus takes on a completely different mindset, one that he believes contributes to his ability to be the goofy and fun person that he is off the field.

“I’ve learned from a young age that I play better when I’m angry, so I try to take my aggression out when I’m playing, and that helps me to try to calm myself outside of the game,” Marcus said of his playstyle. “It’s helped me be able to focus all of my energy and anger towards a certain goal, instead of just holding it in. I take my anger out on the field, and then become a more happy and calm person off the field.”

Over the course of his high school football career, Marcus has had two head coaches, Mike Tirabassi and Loren Powers, both who have taught him extremely valuable lessons about the importance of academics and hardwork.

“Coach Tirabassi would always harp on academics first, academics first. That’s what will get you to the next level: your academics not necessarily your play,” Marcus said. “And then Coach Powers, he’s taught me to work, even when it’s not required. I had never really lifted weights before, because I was just a bigger person, and I just assumed, “Oh, I don’t need to do that.” But he has really pushed me to become a better, more well-rounded athlete … making sure I put in the extra work to try to separate myself from [everyone else].”

Marcus has had his fair share of highlights on the football field, most notably a forced fumble in his sophomore year that cousin and former teammate Jared Anderson (‘19) returned for a game-sealing touchdown. That being said, things haven’t always been smooth, as Marcus dealt with a number of serious injuries early on.

“[Those experiences] have taught me that no matter what comes your way that you can always overcome it,” Marcus said. “I’ve been healthy for the last two years, and [my past injuries] haven’t been bothering me at all. I’m trying to go play college football at this point, which I never even imagined coming in Harker would be a possibility.”

Powers, who has coached and worked closely with Marcus these past two years, recognized Marcus’ “energetic and upbeat personality” the moment he met him. Marcus wasn’t named a captain of the football team in his junior year, but Powers describes this moment as “a big wake up [call].” Powers has been more than impressed with Marcus’ response to this challenge, highlighting one particular action during a game in Marcus’ junior year as a sign of his growth as both a leader and a teammate.

“[Marcus] was having a great game at tight end and [defensive] end, and we had an injury. We had to put someone at right tackle, and we looked at Marcus, he’s the biggest guy in the team, we’re like, it’s up to you. And he didn’t blink an eye, he’s like, ‘Give me a jersey, I’m ready to go,’” Powers said. “That’s something that you hope for not only on a team, but in whatever industry you’re working in with.”

Levi, who has played baseball with Marcus since middle school, values Marcus’s selfless, team-first mindset that carries over to the baseball field as well.

“He always thinks about the team first. [Whenever he’s] at-bat, he’s always trying to do whatever he can to help out the team. He’s not necessarily trying to do the most or [hit a home run] every time. He’s a team player,” Levi said.

Those who don’t know Marcus may mistake him for just an athlete, but Marcus wants to be remembered at Harker for much more than that.

“I want to be remembered not only on the field, but on campus, as a positive influence, a positive person and a positive character from all my teachers, coaches and my peers from the grades below me,” Marcus said. “I want to be talked about in a positive light, not just as ‘oh, he was the athlete,’ but as ‘oh, he was a good person.’”

Both Enzensperger and Powers have seen Marcus’ kindness and compassion first hand, describing it as a quality of his that may fly under the radar due to his reputation as an athlete.

“One thing about Marcus that I don’t think a lot of people see is his kindness,” Powers said. “You want people like him to be a part of your community, because he cares, he’s an individual that’s willing to help anyone and drop what he’s doing to be able to make sure those people are safe and healthy, or if they’re going through something they have someone to talk to as well. I think that that shows a lot about him, about his heart and his compassion for other people.”