With passion for hard work and dedication to others, North Platte St. Pat’s senior Alex Harms has become Nebraska’s nominee for the Wendy’s High School Heisman.The Wendy’s High School Heisman is arguably the most prestigious honor a high school student athlete can receive. It recognizes athletes who distinguish themselves in academics and community service too.
Every year, a male and female athlete is nominated from each state. This year, Harms and Grand Island Northwest volleyball star McKenzie Brown are the state’s nominees. North Platte High School graduate Brigid Kenny was also the state’s nominee for the award a decade ago.
Harms was made known about the award by his guidance counselor, Judy O’Neill. With the help of O’Neill and his mom, Jacque, Harms was nominated for the High School Heisman.
“It was a very tedious process,” Harms said. “There was a lot of paperwork involved. They wanted to know basically everything about your life.”
At St. Pat’s, Harms excels in football, basketball and track. He plays baseball for the North Platte Legion team in the summer. He participates in choir and plays the trumpet for the St. Pat’s band. He is also the president of the National Honor Society at St. Pat’s.
In the community, Harms volunteers with the youth football and basketball programs. He is also involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Holy Spirit Church.
“I just like helping other people succeed,” Harms said. “If I can do that, I’ve done what God has wanted me to do because He wants us to guide each other and love one another.”
Harms said going to St. Pat’s has helped him become the best person he can be because the school has taught him the importance of serving others.
“I credit that to the religion taught at (St. Pat’s),” Harms said. “I like the religious aspect of the school and I am glad it’s there.”
Harms said he has been the most influenced at St. Pat’s by Kevin Dodson and Brad Braithwait. Dodson is the superintendent of North Platte Catholic Schools and the head football coach for the Irish. Braithwait is an assistant football coach and the head boys’ track coach.
Harms admires Dodson for his work ethic and drive and likes Braithwait because he has given good advice throughout the past three years.
Besides attending St. Pat’s, Harms said playing sports year-round has helped define him.
“I love working hard and the concept of being on a team,” he said. “I like working with others and helping them accomplish goals like going to state.”
Through sports, Harms has learned how to handle both success and adversity.
“I know what it’s like to both win and lose,” Harms said. “I know how to be a gracious winner and loser.”
Of the four sports that Harms competes in, football is his favorite. Harms said he likes the speed and physicality of the game, as well as the fact that he is just one of 11 players on the field united toward a common purpose.
He is the quarterback for the 8-1 Irish who have made it to the second round of the state playoffs.
“It’s been fun, yet challenging at the same time with Coach Dodson and the others pushing me,” Harms said. “But I love being the leader and helping my teammates do the best they can.”
As the quarterback, Harms has keyed the Irish to another outstanding season. He is not only one of the better athletes to play the position for St. Pat’s, he is also one of the best passers.
His ability to throw the ball to receivers Drew McClellen, Mark Mayfield and Andrew O’Neill have given the Irish balance to go along with their usually strong rushing attack.
Harms is in his first year as starting quarterback for St. Pat’s after being a backup his first three years. Before this year, he helped the Irish go deep into the playoffs as a starting linebacker as a sophomore and a junior. Even though he was a young player on a talented team, he knew that if he worked hard, he would find his way onto the field.
“What I’ve learned in my high school career is to never give up and to always give my best,” Harms said. “When I was a sophomore and junior, I worked hard in practice and it showed in that I got to help the team.”
Harms’ second favorite sport is basketball, which is a little ironic considering his father, Jim, was formerly the head wrestling coach at NPHS and is now an assistant coach in that sport at St. Pat’s under Kevin Wood.
Harms also participated in wrestling when he was younger, but when he got to high school, he decided that basketball was a better fit partly because of the team aspect.
“I like basketball,” Harms said. “It’s a lot of fun because it is so fast-paced. It helps me with the mental aspect of sports. I also like to help my teammates, playing with them and being around them.”
St. Pat’s has qualified for the state tournament every year of Harms’ career. He has been a key player since his sophomore season.
At 6-foot-2 inches, Harms is a forward who excels at rebounding and running the court in transition.
In track, Harms competes in the shot put, discus and both the 110 and 300-meter hurdles. He was a finalist in Class C in the 300 hurdles, this spring.
He said that track and baseball go hand in hand with each other because technique is such a big part of them and they both use similar attributes.
“Discus is my favorite event because I like the throwing technique and the repetition,” Harms said. “That’s the way track has helped me with baseball because you also work on your swing. The hurdles help me with my speed as a centerfielder and the discus helps make me stronger.”
This year in baseball, Harms was the starting centerfielder for the North Platte First Nationals.
Harms hasn’t decided on a college. But he wants to play football and he wants to major in agri-business. Harms’ nickname, as announced by North Platte baseball public address announcer John Allberry before at-bats, is “Farmboy.”
He wants to raise his family on a farm just like the previous two generations of his family.
“Growing up on the farm with my grandpa played a role (in helping me become the person I am now),” he said. “He helped establish my work ethic and he told me to never give up until the job is done.”
This report was first published in the Nov. 6 print edition of the North Platte Bulletin.