His family would make jokes from time to time that a football player shouldn’t be so smart.
Dakota Sneed knows what the stereotype is, but it didn’t hold him back.
Sneed developed the discipline needed to excel in athletics and is the 2014 valedictorian of Edinburgh Community High School, finishing with a 4.45 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale with weighted grades).
He forced himself to give a full effort in each workout, practice and game, no matter how tired he was or how hot it was outside. And he used that same discipline in the classroom. While friends would be playing video games, Sneed would be working on an assignment for English or another subject.
“Academics and athletics taught me discipline,” Sneed said. “You have to be there on a certain time focusing on athletics, and then you have to set aside time for your school work.”
Sneed will attend Butler University, where he will play football and study toward a career in the medical field.
Sneed, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound offensive lineman, was a four-year starter for the Edinburgh Community High School football team and was selected to participate in the Indiana North-South All-Star Classic on July 19, as one of the best senior offensive linemen in the state. He was also on the varsity basketball and track and field teams for three years apiece.
No matter the time of year, Sneed’s schedule was busy.
School would let out at 3:15 p.m. In the fall Sneed would head straight for football practice, which would begin about 30 minutes later. That would end around 5:30 p.m., and he would be happy if he could sit down to begin homework one hour later after showering and grabbing a quick bite to eat.
“My life was basically sports and then going to finish schoolwork,” Sneed said.
On a few occasions, Sneed wondered if he was making the right decision to focus so much of his effort on his schoolwork. He knew earning good grades was important but wondered if he was sacrificing being a regular kid to do so. His friends would be playing video games together while he was working on assignments.
“A lot of my friends would ask me to hang out, and I’d have to finish an essay or do a homework assignment,” Sneed said. “It was frustrating at times when I’d have to watch my friends go have fun and I was doing homework.”
English was his least favorite subject and proved to be the closest thing to a stumbling block he had in trying to become a valedictorian.
Sneed received a B in English each semester as a junior and senior — the only times he received a grade lower than an A in any class in high school.
“That bothered me a little bit because I wasn’t used to (getting a B),” Sneed said. “It was also frustrating because I would spend a lot more time on English than other things, working extra hard. It crossed my mind that I could be passed in class ranking, but I think what helped me was I excelled in the other classes.”