Hockey player from Canada recruited to high school football team in Fort Mill

FORT MILL, S.C. — There comes a time when you can’t be afraid to step outside the box -- even if the next step brings you between the lines instead.

Ben Wakefield is a student athlete at Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, where Michael Allen is the longtime head football coach.

“One of our coaches, Matt Harrison, just happened to pass by him in the hallway,” Allen told Channel 9′s DaShawn Brown.

“And he came up to me and said ‘do you play football?’ and I was like ‘I used to play hockey but I quit last year,’ Wakefield said. “And he said ‘okay, now you play football.’”

If it sounds simple, it kind of is. The native Canadian first cut his teeth in the ice rink, but now he’s attacking something new: football. Wakefield says it’s a sport he’s never played, unless you count one time in second grade.

“That was a little while ago,” he said. When asked how much he retained, he replied, “None of it. It was learning a brand new sport.”

When Brown asked Allen what he remembered about Wakefield’s first practice, he had glowing reviews.

“Ben was a little nervous to begin with, but he had a really great offseason in the weight room. Very strong man,” Allen said.

“I wasn’t exactly coordinated in that, so my first practice was a lot of balls on the ground, shaking heads, but we got there,” Wakefield said. “It took a while. I started catching them eventually.”

He’s started turn heads now. The junior tight end has been gradually earning his spot among the Falcons. He said he’s learned a lot since he switched from hockey to football.

“They’re both quick sports. They’re both physical sports. You’ve got to keep your head up and know where everyone’s at or you’re going to get hit,” Wakefield said. “They’re both fun.”

“He’s just a very well-rounded human being. Academically, he is very strong, which actually makes his future even brighter as an athlete. Because that’s the first thing they’re going to ask me when they come in the door,” Allen said. “So he’s already on the radar. They know he’s a project, but they also know keep their eye on that guy.”

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