Eagles' Mason motivates Mayflower

by Mark Oliver

Despite losing its first three games of the season, Mayflower turned things around last week with a 59-32 win at Rose Bud. For senior defensive end Aaron Mason, it’s just the beginning of the rewards soon to be reaped by the hard-working Eagles.

“We’re getting better every week,” Mason said. “We lost a lot of great talent last year, but so many of us are stepping up this year. I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff. They’re fearless. They motivate us and help us come together as a unit. They’re positive and never discouraging. I feel confident that our coaching staff has the recipe to help make us stronger and bring us together as a team.”

Mason was selected to this year’s 501 Football Team — 27 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Mason was nominated by Mayflower head coach Todd Langrell.

“Aaron has great leadership qualities,” Langrell said. “He is vocal and builds his teammates up. He is focused, encouraging and selfless and is someone who will provide passion, attitude and trust for our team.”

The story of how Mason began suiting up for the Eagles isn’t your typical one. Unlike many players his age, Mason joined football as a way to battle a potential health issue.

“A few years ago, I was borderline diabetic,” Mason said. “I wasn’t where I wanted to be nor where I needed to be, physically. I wasn’t always a football fan. I didn’t have a favorite team nor a favorite player. In fact, I never watched the game until a few years ago. What got me into football was the athletic aspect of the game — something that would allow me to get fit and get healthy for myself.”

While Mason continues to work hard toward his personal goals, the senior hopes to spread his message to all who face similar physical issues.

“Health and wellness are very important to me,” Mason said. “Coming from where I was before, I know that I’m moving in a positive direction toward where I feel that I need to be. Every day, I push myself to become stronger and I hope that my story helps other people that have been in my position to push themselves, too. Get healthy, get fit and live the life that you think you should have.”

“Aaron has the ability to get along with anyone,” Langrell said. “He has a special ability to vocally encourage someone without coming off arrogant. He is very respectful to all — teachers and students included.”

Mason’s motivation and encouragement reaches beyond the football field. As a member of the school’s cheerleading squad, the senior brings excitement and energy to all of Mayflower’s athletic programs.

“Cheerleading was different, starting out,” Mason said. “I just wanted to try it out and it ended up being really good for me. The workout it gives definitely blew my expectations out of the water. I was very surprised. Cheerleading really does take a lot of strength, and I learned to do a lot of new things I didn’t know I could do before.”

Off the field, Mason spends his free time volunteering at Mayflower’s Boys and Girls Club. For the senior, his time spent at the club in his youth encouraged him to give back to the community he calls home.

“When I was young, I remember playing flag football, dodge ball and other sports with some of the high school kids that would come by after school,” Mason said. “They would even help the younger kids with their homework. Seeing them teach the younger kids made me want to be just like them. That experience really inspired me to pursue athletics at Mayflower.”

This summer, Mason took his first big steps toward his future — joining the Army and attending basic training.

“I’m proud to be a future soldier,” Mason said. “It was a very tough decision for me to make, but it’s a big step in my life that I believe will help me build a better foundation for my future.”

Mason and the Eagles play host to Perryville at 7 p.m. Friday.