BY PETE MOHR | SEPTEMBER 1, 2010
Meet the Football Falcon seniors …
By Homecoming Week, every Football Falcon senior will have been profiled – perhaps in twos or threes, but no senior will be left out. That’s my personal pledge to all 21 deserving seniors. ~ P.C.M.
Cody Wendel’s “Senior Profile” will be the last to appear in Sonoran News before the Falcons host (Vail) Cienega in their home opener, Friday evening, Sept. 3. The timeliness of its publication was just plain luck!
Early in my Aug. 30 telephone interview with Cody, I learned that his first start at defensive end came at Cienega in the 2009 season’s opener: “I was kind of nervous … really didn’t know what to expect. But after the first play, the ‘butterflies’ left and I played my hardest.” I could almost “see” Cody smile before he exclaimed, “We gotta stick it to ‘em again!”
At 6’2”, 200 lbs. (“I could use about ten more pounds of muscle, which I’ll work to attain”), Cody, only son (older sister Teri, 19, is a rising sophomore at NAU) of Creekers Mark and Nancy Wendel, was born July 8, 1992 in Walnut Creek, Calif. The Wendel family moved to the Valley when Cody became an 8th grader at STMS. He’d played his first organized “tackle” football one year earlier.
“What does it mean to Cody Wendel to be a Football Falcon senior?,” I asked. “You know, we seniors have all grown together since we were freshmen. I think it’s a really big deal that for four years, we’ve played together … to win!” He continued, “We have a lot of talent and experience. I honestly believe we’ll do better this season.” Sonoran News: “Is that a ‘Cody Wendel’ prediction?” His emphatic answer? “That’s a ‘Cody Wendel’ fact!”
Wendel on senior leadership: “All of our seniors are leaders in one way or another. We’re the most experienced – been there, done that. Our job is to encourage the younger players … show ‘em some ‘tough love’ when they need it.”
I had to almost coax from him what I’d forgotten – that for the ’09 season, Cody received from the coaching staff the “SWAT Award” for his fearlessness on the kickoff team. “I love kickoffs! Running down there with a full head of steam! Football … it’s a blast! For me, it’s not an option not to play!”
His personal goals for this season? “Play my hardest.” Then he recited the creed of Falcon linemen: “A.A.T.: Assignment, Alignment, Technique. You don’t have to be a hero … or make big plays to win – just do your job!” The simplicity … the modesty of Cody’s focus would be praised by all his coaches, I’m sure.
Cody rates himself a “B” student, Zoology and World History, his favorite subjects. “I love the outdoors and travel!” He warmly tells me about his trip to Australia this summer, “just me and my Mom.” He’d play at the “next level” if offered a scholarship opportunity. But his post-graduation focus is upon the possibility of entering veterinary school at Colorado University at Boulder.
I closed our conversation with a dumb question: “Are you looking forward to this season?” He replied, kindly, “You know, this is my final high school season. I’ve got to make the best of it.”
Cody Wendel, I’m confident you will.
Photo by Pete Mohr