Speer bolsters Lake Hamilton brotherhood

by Mark Oliver

After dropping its first three conference games, Lake Hamilton (4-4, 2-3 Class 6A West) has bounced back for two consecutive victories and a playoff berth. Leading the Wolves’ powerful lines, senior Cole Speer says his fellow linemen are more than just teammates — they’re a brotherhood.

“All of our linemen are really close friends,” Speer said. “After practice, we’re always doing stuff together like eating at Coach Davenport’s house on Thursday nights. Our bond that we have helps make us more successful on the field.” 

“Over the past three weeks, our backs have exceeded 800 yards on the ground,” head coach Tommy Gilleran said. “That doesn’t happen without the hard work that Cole gives us on the line. Offensively, he has the best blocking percentage of anyone on our team. Defensively, he’s fast and gets around people well and uses his hands well. Even though he isn’t the biggest, he’s one our best all-around linemen out there.” 

Speer was selected to this year’s 501 Football Team — 25 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team, sponsored by Conway Ortho and Sports Medicine, Conway Regional Health System and First Security Bank, boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Speer was nominated by Gilleran.

“There’s not a kid that works harder than Cole,” Gilleran said. “A few weeks ago, he broke his hand, and you would have never known it. He taped it up and went back to lifting and working out. That tells you the commitment he has for this program. Not only is he a hard worker, but he talks to his teammates in a way that encourages them to do better. He cares about others more than himself and is the perfect person for this honor.”

Speer attributes the team’s turnaround to hard work and learning from its mistakes. 

“We’re getting better every week,” Speer said. “Many of our losses have been due to errors and turnovers, and we’re stressing to our younger players the importance of going hard in practice and making sure we correct our mistakes. The end of our season won’t reflect the beginning of it.” 

With a trip to the Class 6A playoffs in their grasp, the Wolves prepare for a week-nine matchup against a formidable rival.  

“Benton is going to be an important game for us,” Speer said. “They’re a big rival, and they’re always fun to play against. Although we’re already in the playoffs, a win this week will help us move up in the standings and bolster our confidence going forward. If we work hard and correct some of our mistakes, we have what it takes to get the win.” 

Speer’s favorite memories on the field are those he shares with his brother and teammate, Justin Speer. 

“I love playing alongside my brother on the field,” Speer said. “Off the field, we’ll hang out together and take our dog to the lake and go fishing or swimming. Having that brotherly bond not only helps us succeed on the field, it has also brought us closer together as a family, too.”

Off the field, Speer participates in Lake Hamilton track and field and is interested in joining the school’s wrestling team. In the community, the senior is a member of Church of Christ in Hot Springs. After high school, Speer plans to pursue a nursing degree.

“My mom has been a nurse her whole life, and her work has made a big impact on me,” Speer said. “Seeing her and my dad, a firefighter, helping others makes me want to help people, too. When I’m older, I want to fix things and help people heal.”

Lake Hamilton plays host to Benton Friday at 7 p.m.