McClain named Wendy’s Heisman winner

Thursday, March 8, 2018
Clay Central-Everly quarterback and point guard Ben McClain holds his Wendy’s High School Heisman award while wearing the accompanying medals. McClain finished the award process as the male winner for the state of Iowa, winning a $1,000 scholarship.
Photo by Nate Shaughnessy

EVERLY — Clay Central-Everly’s recent athletics track record doesn’t exactly inspire thought of a prestigious award like the Heisman Trophy, but the latest male Wendy’s High School Heisman winner for the state of Iowa knows that fact.

“Honestly, I didn’t think my chances (of winning) were very good coming from a small school and from a team that kind of struggled throughout the seasons — both football and basketball,” CC-E quarterback and point guard Ben McClain said. “And if you look at my stats compared to some of the other kids in the state, there were not as good, so I was really surprised when I got the award, but I’m honored by it.”

Despite his doubts, McClain threw his hat in the ring for the award on the recommendation of his guidance counselor, and things happened to bounce his way.

Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas joined forces with the Heisman Trophy Trust in 1994 in an effort to acknowledge some of the nation’s most esteemed high school seniors who give back to their communities, treat people with respect, plan to continue their eduction and excel on the athletic field.

Phase one of the application process narrows down candidates to one male and one female winner for each state. Phase two of the application then uses essay questions to cut that field of 100 to 10 national finalists from which one male and one female are chosen.

State winners, like McClain, receive a $1,000 scholarship, a silver medal and a Wendy’s High School Heisman State Winner patch. National finalists see their scholarship bumped up to $5,000 while national winners receive $10,000 for schooling.

“The Heisman scholarship is obviously based on a little bit of sports,” McClain said. “They’re looking for a well-rounded athlete that also performs well in the classroom, so it’s judged mostly on your extra-curricular activities, specifically sports and then also your academic achievements.”

To qualify for consideration, applicants need a GPA of 3.0 or better and perform in at least one of the 47 school sponsored sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee or the National Federation of State High School Associations.

McClain, who plans on attending Iowa State University with the hopes of eventual acceptance into the school’s lauded veterinarian program, easily cleared both of those hurdles.

“One thing about CC-E being such a small school is that I can be involved in everything,” McClain explained. “I’ve been a football and basketball starter for the last three years now. Track and baseball I’ve been actively involved in as well, and you also have to be involved in just about everything else whether it’s FFA, speech, choir (or) band. Coming from a small school allows me to be more well-rounded than maybe some of the other applicants were.”

FFA sticks out as one of McClain’s favorite activities outside the lines and has provided him with opportunities to demonstrate some additional leadership attributes.

“This past year I had the privilege of serving as the northwest district vice president, and that role has allowed me to communicate with many different members from chapters across our district,” the Maverick said.

He also manages to find the time to take care of some wooly companions when he’s not hitting the practice field.

“I’m an all year-round athlete, so I’m constantly at a practice whether it be football, basketball, track or baseball, but other than that, I enjoy raising sheep at home,” he said. “That’s something that I do through FFA, and it’s something that I have a deep passion for.”

McClain didn’t make the cut to be a national finalist, but he’s happy to have made it this far.

“I was very surprised, humbled at the same time,” the four-sport athlete said. “This is a big scholarship, and it’ll be a big help coming into college as a freshman. I was really honored by this scholarship. It’s very interesting to come from a small school and to have some of the stats that I did and still be able to accept an award like this.”

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