The Michigan High School Athletic Association recently selected 10 student-athletes from Class C and D member schools to receive scholarships through the MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award program.
Students applying for the Scholar-Athlete Award must be carrying at least a 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) grade-point average and have previously won a letter in a varsity sport in which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors a postseason tournament. Other requirements for the applicants were to show active participation in other school and community activities and produce an essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics.
Not only did Greenhills senior Finn Feldeisen check all the boxes, but he was well-versed to write about the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics. After all, he’s lived it for four years and was a team captain in two sports.
So it was no surprise that Feldeisen was one of the 10 students to receive this prestigious honor.
“For the essay, I decided to use a couple of personal anecdotes about my time playing both tennis and lacrosse to help demonstrate the two unique ways that sportsmanship plays a role on each of those teams,” said Feldeisen. “I wrote about how a lot of times we act as though sportsmanship is this physical goal we can achieve, but instead I argue that its state of being constantly just out of reach makes it that much more impactful. In addition, I relate it back to being able to cooperate with those we don’t always see eye-to-eye with, and it being the grace to accept that.”
Here is an excerpt from his essay: “Embodying sportsmanship means being an ambassador and leading others to be the same, even when it may not be the easy choice. But it is so much more as well. It is the unknown and undefined aspect that all teams seek to achieve. Its unwillingness to become a simple action is what makes it truly special.”
Farm Bureau Insurance, in its 32nd year of sponsoring the award, will give $1,000 college scholarships to 32 individuals who represent their member schools in at least one sport in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament. The first 30 scholarships are awarded proportionately by school classification and the number of student-athletes involved in those classes; also, there are two at-large honorees who can come from any classification.
Feldeisen, 18, played four seasons of varsity tennis and will play a fourth season of varsity lacrosse this spring. He contributed to tennis championships at multiple levels including Finals as a sophomore and junior, and helped the lacrosse team to a league title in 2019. He also earned academic all-state in tennis and has served as team captain in both sports.
The tennis program at Greenhills has long been one of the elite in the state of Michigan. They serve up state titles on a regular basis and Feldeisen was a member of more than one of those outstanding teams. He says his tennis career at Greenhills was “nothing short of amazing.”
“I have four older siblings, three of which are boys who competed on the team and all had high levels of success,” he says. “With these siblings came frequent trips to matches and tournaments, so I was exposed to this team and its culture from a very young age. I remember entering my freshman year of high school and being so excited to finally have a chance to support my team from the court instead of the sideline. This built-up enthusiasm led to a deep anticipation and love for the sport and particularly the Greenhills tennis team.”
In his four years on the tennis courts at Greenhills, Feldeisen played 4 doubles (9th grade), 3-doubles (10th & 11th grade) and 4 singles (12th grade). His freshmen year, he reached the state semifinals and the team finished second. His sophomore year, the team and his three doubles team both won states. As a junior playing Division 3, his doubles team reached the finals and Greenhills again won states. As a senior playing four singles, he lost in the finals (although it was a team tournament) and Greenhills finished second after falling just short in the team-tiebreaker.
“I have been blessed to have astounding coaches and teammates that I have been able to learn from and compete with,” he says. “As a freshman, they welcomed me with open arms, and as a senior they continued to support me and make this team more like a family.”
Feldeisen says lacrosse has been a “different beast than tennis.”
“It’s very hard, at any level, to achieve the level of success we had in tennis, and so coming off of that high in the Fall has always been a transition to the Spring season, where it is very much about enjoying playing and building a strong foundation for future years,” he says.
As a sophomore, Feldeisen and the Gryphons captured the program’s first Catholic League title.
“That group of seniors helped build the foundation for a program that is very much so on the up-rise,” says Feldeisen, who has spent a majority of time at midfield, whether that be long stick or short stick midfield. “My lacrosse experience at Greenhills has been all about the relationships I have formed.”
Being a leader and captain of these two teams has meant a lot to Feldeisen. He says it’s a reflection of his teammates and coaches.
“I have been so lucky to have astoundingly talented and well natured teammates and coaches,” he says. “As an underclassman, the upperclassmen, including the captains, were consistently positive role models from the way they competed to the ways they held themselves off the court. I have had extremely supportive and guiding coaches who have made my messages clear: buy into our system, and buy into our coaches. Ultimately, the players and coaches I have been around have made my job as a captain extremely enjoyable.”
Finn, the son of Ron and Pam Feldeisen, also was quite busy and successful off the athletic fields. He participated in four years of student council and was president this year. He also served as co-secretary general for Model United Nations, an oratory event leader in forensics and head of peer-to-peer math tutoring as a senior.
He also participated on the state champion forensics team as a sophomore and was awarded the Ambassador Award by United Nations Association of the USA and varsity letter in service by local United Way.
Feldeisen is very much looking forward to the next chapter of his life.
“I’m really looking for a school that can provide a high quality education while still having the atmosphere of a fun and exciting student body,” he says. “Sports have always been a part of my extracurricular life, so the opportunities presented with respect to that are also important. But, overall, I place a lot of stress on the type of atmosphere, vibe and community that the school exhibits.”