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He spent less than three minutes in the room where a group of elementary-aged kids was holding class. But the impact of those quick three minutes may be felt for a lifetime.
The 2021-22 Mansfield News Journal Scholar-Athlete of the Year doesn’t take the responsibility he carried for the last four years lightly. And honestly, he didn’t really even know the extent of his impact. It wasn’t until later in the day when the teacher of that elementary class stopped him during a study hall period and told him they couldn’t get the class under control after he walked out of the room.
Every conversation turned from what they were learning to, ‘Did you just see Mason Studer walk in here?’ It was as if the kids saw LeBron James walking their hallways.
Mason Studer understands his role as a leader
At small schools, athletes have big responsibilities. There is nothing for families to do on a Friday night other than go to the basketball game to see if their hometown team can bring home a W. And those families take their young kids to the games of course. That is where the responsibility starts. Studer never wanted to be one of those guys who kids look up to yet lead them down the wrong path. He wanted to be like his role models when he was growing up. You know, those guys he himself watched on Friday night in the Eagles Nest of Mac Morrison Gymnasium.
“It can be tough,” Studer said. “Very tough. It has definitely influenced a lot of my decisions. I may want to go ‘be a high schooler’ and have fun, but having young eyes on me changes a lot of the way I do things and that can be a lot sometimes. But I also embrace it. Growing up, I had so many people I looked up to. I couldn’t have gotten to where I have been if I didn’t have so many people to look up to. Austin Smith made it to Bowling Green. Connor McCreary made it to Bowling Green. I wanted to make it to Bowling Green. It had a huge impact on our community and that is what I wanted to do.”
Studer did that and so much more during his four years at Colonel Crawford High School.
“The role models I had in my life growing up, it is amazing to be able to do the same things for these young kids,” Studer said. “It is big for me to not only be a role model, but to want to do it better. I tried my best to make sure to leave a lasting impression on them.”
How Mason Studer helped Colonel Crawford on the court
On the court, he taught the youngsters the right way to play. In his career, he finished with 974 points, 394 rebounds, 413 assists and 203 steals and rarely took a seat on the bench and never gave less than 100%. He is the career assist leader and owns the program record for most assists in a game with 15. He ended his high school career with an 89-11 overall record and helped his team win 54 consecutive regular-season wins, 12th most in the history of boys basketball in Ohio.
During his senior year, Studer averaged 17.2 points, six rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.9 steals per game. He helped his team win the Northern 10 Conference championship as well as the sectional and district titles and the program’s first-ever regional runner-up trophy in Division III.
Those are the accomplishments he will talk about forever. Those his team achieved.
What he won talk about is how he was the Northern 10 Conference, Division III District 6, Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Division III and Division III Northwest District Player of the Year. He was first-team All-Ohio as well.
As impressive as his basketball accomplishments were, it is what he achieved in the classroom along with those athletic accolades that make him worthy of the 2021-22 Mansfield News Journal Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
How Mason Studer showed leadership in the classroom
Studer finished his high school career with a 4.0-grade point average and an Academic All-Ohioan. He was the Vice President of the National Honor Society, FCCLA President, member of the Student Council, a Young Life student leader and was on the Prom Committee.
Quite an impact indeed.
“I have been in education for 20 years and he is as special as they come,” Colonel Crawford basketball coach David Sheldon said. “Not just on the floor, but off the floor, as well. Just a couple of week ago, I had 70 kids in my elementary camp and I had Mason come back to speak to them. Those kids were locked in hanging on to every word and when he was done, he probably signed 70 autographs.
“That is what people do not realize. The impact that kids like Mason have on an entire school district. We all watch the NBA Finals, but a kid like this is real life that younger kids can see on a daily basis. They see him go through life with discipline, working in the gym for countless hours with no one around, and getting great grades. The fact he showed these kids that he has to work this hard to achieve what he wants is a life lesson that is hard to teach.”
When Studer walked through the doors of the Mac, some of those same kids who were buzzing during the library encounter were sitting there, sporting their Little Eagles t-shirts sitting cross-legged in a circle just waiting to hear what their hero had to say.
Studer never imagined he would be back working another camp. He was officially graduated and no longer a part of the program even though, once an Eagle, always an Eagle.
But when he saw how the kids responded to his speech and the impact he left on the day, he couldn’t help but return for the following day. If he is going to help implement change in a young kid’s life, he was going to take every chance he possibly can.
Never missed a day
One of the biggest lessons he leaves behind is the importance of showing up.
Mason Studer showed up. And everyone could count on him showing up.
Like in the Division II district championship game with his team down 16 points heading into the fourth quarter against Western Reserve and Studer had a quiet two points. Then, he showed up scoring nine points in the final eight minutes to lead an improbable comeback to a district title.
But before he showed up on the basketball court, Studer showed up in the classroom. Every. Single. Day.
In his high school career, Studer never missed a day of school. Not one. In fact, he hadn’t missed a day of school since the first grade and even that was a fluke.
“I hear countless times how a hard worker has to be accountable and show up and that is just what I always did,” Studer said. “I have only missed one day of school my entire life and it was in first grade because we went to Disney for a week. We had four snow days in January and had to make up one and I missed it to go on vacation.”
But the biggest threat to his perfect attendance came in March when he found himself getting sick in the middle of the night three times. He had News Journal All-Star Classic practice the next evening and school to get through during the day. So, he sucked it up, went to school and decided to take the evening off. He kept his perfect attendance intact in school but missed the first practice of his entire life.
“I don’t remember being that sick as I was this year,” Studer said. “During COVID, I would always separate myself because I didn’t want to ruin my perfect attendance and I didn’t want to mess up athletics. But this year was bad. I was really sick. I threw up at 1 a.m., 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. and I remember deciding if I was going to go to school or not and I ended up going and teachers could tell I wasn’t normal so must let me be and didn’t ask too many questions. But my goal was to not miss a day in high school, so, I had to go.”
So, he went. He showed up.
He never missed a day for doctor’s appointments or this or that. Even when he broke his nose during a game against Lexington last season, he still didn’t miss a day. If it weren’t for a program at Colonel Crawford where students get a personal day for exceptional scores on state tests, Sheldon wouldn’t have even known Studer had a broken nose.
Studer called into the school to see if he was allowed to use his rewarded personal day to go get his nose checked by a doctor. After talking to the attendance officer, he used his personal day which triggered a chain of communication that got back to Sheldon that Studer had a broken nose.
“He sets the tone,” Sheldon said. “We live in a day and age where employers can’t get people to show up for work. Mason went over and above setting the tone for his class whether it be on the court or in the classroom. I tell everyone, we were a player-led team this past season and it was because of Mason Studer. He was the coach on the floor. We won 54 regular-season games in a row which is a Top 12 state record and I credit a lot to this kid because of his drive and focus and his ability to get everyone to follow. He represents what it means to be a student-athlete.”
Old School Studer
In today’s educational world, high school students no longer have to spend their entire day in the building. Some can choose to take post-secondary classes at a nearby college or go to school half a day and work the other half.
Even though Studer had 46 college credits to his name, the last thing he was going to do was not get the full high school experience.
“I made up my mind going into my senior year that I wanted to stay in the high school all day,” Studer said. “My brother took college courses but that was because there wasn’t much of that offered here. Now, there is so much to offer and I knew I could get 46 college credits done without leaving the building.
“I just knew I didn’t want to grow up too fast. Going to a college campus, I feel like you are growing up too fast because I have seen it out of people. It doesn’t look that fun so I wanted to enjoy high school as much as I could. There are so many memories. Like lunch was the best part of the day because of the memories made with friends just hanging out talking.”
Have fun being a kid, right?
“I call Mason ‘old school’,” Sheldon said. “Today, every kid wants to be at school half a day and then go take college classes or take college classes all the time. Mason lived the high school life. He never left and was here all day. He took some post-secondary classes here, but he was old school. He enjoyed the entire high school experience.”
Honestly, Studer probably learned more from his time staying at school than if he had gone to a college after completing all of his necessary high school credits.
Instead of sitting in a college class as one of 80, he stayed back at Colonel Crawford and had conversations. Important conversations with important people.
“My first semester was pretty busy, but my second was a little lighter so I took that time to talk with my teachers,” Studer said. “Teachers are such an underrated resource because they have been through everything we are about to go through. They all went to college and know so much more than we do about life. So, I took those study halls to talk with them and ask questions about their lives and the things they have learned. There is knowledge there not just about academics, but about life.”
And it is those life lessons he plans to take along with him.
There are only a handful of high school kids who really get it. Who understands getting good grades, attending classes, showing up every day, putting in the extra work and giving 100% is the cool thing to do. Not getting bad grades and not caring because you want everyone to like you. Studer gets it. And it took a global pandemic to really show him how important it is to get it.
“COVID really changed my perspective on life in general,” Studer said. “It made me realize that so much can be gone like that. I saw people who worked so hard their entire lives and finally got to a point where they could start to enjoy their legacy and then they die. It taught me to take every day like it could be your last because it easily could. I started enjoying school much more because it was much better than sitting at home alone. Knowing I lost a big chunk of my high school life, it made me want to make up for it and enjoy my time.”
And he turned that into, among many, many other awards, the News Journal Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
“A lot of credit goes to my parents,” Studer said. “I had an older brother and an older sister and they were both on them about making sure they were on track with their academics. My mom teaches at Crawford so I knew how important education was from a very young age. My siblings were great role models because I saw they were good in the classroom and I wanted to do the same thing. My sister was the valedictorian and spent countless hours studying. I didn’t do as much as her, but she taught me what it was going to take.”
What it took was discipline, something Studer build his life around. It is that discipline that will take him to Ohio Northern University majoring in Business Administration where he hopes to become a business teacher while coaching basketball.
“When I think of Mason, the word disciplined comes to mind,” Sheldon said. “He is disciplined when it comes to academics and the reason he became an unbelievable first team All-Ohio basketball player is because of his work ethic. A lot of kids want to run with their buddies and with the technology in the day and age with the x-boxes and cell phones, you could tell from Day 1, Mason was focused. I remember meeting him in elementary school through our camps and he was locked in. He was mature beyond his age. That developed into his work ethic in academics and on the athletic side.”
It is that discipline and work ethic that he leaves behind for the next group of young Eagles to pick up where he left off.
And who knows, maybe one of those Eagles will leave a library starstruck one day.
Because of the things they learned from Mason Studer.
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Old School: Mason Studer’s discipline, dedication leaves lasting impression at Colonel Crawford