WHEELING - Lee Mendenhall believes that pursuing the things you're passionate about and never becoming complacent in your efforts are two key elements to achieving success while juggling academics, sports and other extra-curricular activities.
"When you get involved with things you love - that serves as your free time. You enjoy going to football games and enjoy taking science classes that you're interested in," said Mendenhall, Wheeling Park High School's 2012 valedictorian.
"Never let yourself get comfortable ... always keep pushing yourself, pushing the envelope, seeing how far you can take yourself - because I think it is better to fail than to never reach your full potential," he added.
"I look for new activities to get involved with so I can meet new people and have a great time with them while I'm out," said Mendenhall, who ranked first in a class of 395 students and racked up countless academic achievements including being named a Stifel Award winner six times and president of the National Honor Society. He also served as his class president for four years and played varsity football for three years.
Mendenhall said he has always considered football a year-round sport because of the constant conditioning and training involved in preparing for the next season. His high school football career achievements include: First Team Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, First Team Two River Athletic Conference, All-State Honorable Mention, All-Valley Honorable Mention, Elks Athlete of the Month, and a state finalist in the Wendy's High School Heisman competition.
He also participated in varsity track, all while making outstanding orchestral achievements while playing the viola with the Wheeling Park and Wheeling Symphony Youth Orchestra strings programs. He was selected to play with the West Virginia All-State Orchestra all four years of high school and played with string quartets for weddings and other local social events.
"I really loved going out and playing for people and meeting new people," said Mendenhall.
Role models have also played an integral part in Mendenhall's decision-making. He said his grandfather, father, and two brothers all have been instrumental in helping him make decisions, both academically and in the sports arena. "Especially my (older) brothers - they never let me make a mistake that they made before," he said.
Mendenhall has volunteered with nearly a dozen different community organizations or events during his high school career, including Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Drug Free Clubs of America, Wheeling Soup Kitchen and the Local Schools Improvement Council. He said he is looking forward to pursuing a pre-med degree at Wake Forest University this fall. His parents are Thomas and Cheryl Mendenhall.