Armwood’s Nolan Troyer spends Friday nights crouched with one hand firmly placed near the tip of a football. Each offensive play, he snaps the ball to the quarterback before smashing into a defender.
Afterward, Troyer emerges from the locker room to greet a handful of classmates — all family members — including four brothers and a sister (all younger).
“It’s great to have their support,” Troyer said. “They push me and have helped me to be the player that I am, and wave and give me hugs and high fives”
For Troyer, a senior who is one of the area’s top centers, his home is his classroom.
He is among a select group of local home-schooled athletes who play a major sport for a public school.
Roughly 15 years ago, home-schooled athletes did not have many options on public school teams. They could play on club teams, but their athletic endeavors were considered little more than organized recess for children without traditional classrooms.
Now those players are tracked by scouting services and colleges as much as their public school teammates. In fact, this is not the Hawks’ first major home-schooled recruit. That distinction belongs to former punter Sterling Hofrichter, now a redshirt senior at Syracuse.
Troyer, who carries a 3.5 grade-point average and has solid test scores (23 ACT and 1,150 SAT), already has offers from Albany State, Bucknell, Jacksonville, Judson, Samford and Valparaiso.
Sonya and Joshua Troyer decided to teach their children — since they were in second grade — not only because they felt they could provide their six children with the best education, but so they could share faith and family.
A typical school day starts with exercise. Troyer gets up around 7 a.m. and runs a mile with his younger siblings. After that, Troyer snaps the football in the backyard and does some ladder agility drills.
The dining room table serves as the classroom. Lessons start at 9 a.m. with a lunch break around noon. Schoolwork lasts about another hour. Then Troyer heads to Armwood to take two classes before heading off to practice.
Troyer enrolled in classes at Armwood in hopes of walking with his teammates at graduation.
On the field, Troyer keeps the same studious approach. As a center, he faces critical decisions before every snap. He is the conductor who makes sure the other linemen are in perfect harmony.
Coach Evan Davis knows the success of the offense starts with Troyer.
Last year, Armwood had to work in a lot of talented new players at the skill positions. The one thing that soothed the staff’s concerns was having Troyer give commands, especially on blocking schemes.
“We went to a no-huddle last year because we had so much confidence in Nolan leading the way,” Davis said. “We don’t go as far we went last year (the Class 6A state final) without him.”
Once homework is finished, Troyer pours over footage his next opponent. He even spends time drawing up new plays.
“I watch hours of film every day,” Troyer said. “I work out every day. I study my opponent every chance I get and work as hard as I can to be the best player in the country.
“Football is my life.”