Word games

Liberty’s Spivey prepares for school, football

Tribune Chronicle / Joe Simon Liberty graduate John Spivey, left, practices with the Trumbull County team this week in preparation for the Jack Arvin All-Star Classic football game scheduled Thursday at Hubbard.

McDONALD — Like most kids preparing to play college football, John Spivey has been working out regularly to prepare for the next level, but Spivey is doing something else that other kids probably are not.

Spivey is studying.

Yes, less than a month after graduating from high school, Spivey, a former Liberty High School football standout who is headed to Allegheny College, is hitting the books. Well, it’s mainly just one book: a dictionary.

“I’m trying to get my vocabulary up, trying to get ready for Allegheny because it’s more of an educational school,” Spivey said. “I study a lot of vocab words. I’m trying to advance my vocabulary, so when I read and stuff like that it won’t be as hard. I’ll know words just by inferencing and knowing what it is.”

“Inferencing,” that’s a good start.

Spivey, who will play defensive end for the Gators, is looking forward to a new beginning. He’s getting a head start on part of the culture change from high school to college by playing in the Jack Arvin All-Star Classic football game, which is scheduled 7 p.m. Thursday at Hubbard Memorial Stadium. Getting to know new players and friends along with learning from a new coaching staff is all part of the process — at the Arvin and in college.

“It’ll help me become a better person and a better player,” Spivey said. “The more people you know, the better. You never know in life. It’s not always what you know, it’s who you know.”

Spivey is still deciding on what he wants to know more about as he endeavors to Meadville, Pa. His major is undetermined at the moment, but that isn’t stopping him from preparing himself for the jargon of complex textbooks.

“I don’t want to just not do nothing and then go to school and be like, ‘Ahh, man, I don’t know this word, this word, this word,” he said. “So, I’m doing a little studying.”

He’s also preparing for the football aspect.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Spivey works out early in the morning and usually again in the afternoon. He’s watching his diet and using practices at the Arvin to perfect his technique and learn different skills from the other Trumbull County all-stars. He and his teammates practiced at 100 percent — as far as blocking, running, passing, etc. — against one another for the first time Wednesday, and Spivey said he loved every second of it.

“Man, I miss contact. I love hitting people,” he said with a grin. “That’s why I play, I love the contact. I love competing. That’s really the main word.

“I’m just having fun playing the game of football.”

He hopes to keep that same mindset with the Gators.