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Trinity's More than an Athlete: Spencer Klehn

Klehn, a dedicated leader and model student, headed to West Point

Posted: June 17, 2014 9:34 p.m.
Updated: June 17, 2014 9:34 p.m.
Spencer Klehn won CIF championships in both football and basketball this year at Trinity. Spencer Klehn won CIF championships in both football and basketball this year at Trinity.
Spencer Klehn won CIF championships in both football and basketball this year at Trinity.

Editor’s note: Today marks the eighth and final in a series in which we recognize athletes at the local high schools who represent their respective schools not so much by what they do on the field, but off of it. We call them “More than an athlete.”

It would be hard to imagine a better senior year for Spencer Klehn.

Just about everything has gone right for the Trinity superstar both athletically and academically in his final year in high school.

This year Klehn has won CIF championships in football and basketball, was named the class valedictorian with a 4.8 GPA, named Trinity’s Male Athlete of the Year and even won Trinity’s House Cup as his houses’ captain for good measure.

With all the winning and success he earned, it would be understandable if he felt pretty good about himself.

But there’s always one word that comes up when coaches and teammates talk about him – humble.

“I don’t think I do anything special,” says Klehn. “My parents taught me to do the best I can do. I feel like I’ve grown up in an environment that taught me how to lead.”

Klehn has been the ultimate leader for Trinity, working with teammates and fellow students alike to make his school a better place.

At Trinity, students are separated into four different houses, which are meant to create solidarity at the school.

As the house captain he was responsible for planning events, making sure his housemates followed the school code and encouraging school spirit.

On the field and on the court Klehn led by example, encouraging teammates whenever they needed it.

“Whenever he would finish with his conditioning he would come back and get out in front of his linemen and help his teammates who were struggling,” says Trinity head football coach Mike Buchanan. “He really cares for his teammates. He doesn’t care about stats. All he wants is to win and make his teammates better.”

A natural leader, Klehn prefers to use his example to motivate teammates. He found that the time he put in at practice was the most important.

John Brooks, who has coached Klehn in football and basketball dating back to fourth grade, nicknamed him "Textbook” in his sophomore year.

“He always smiles when I call him that,” says Brooks, the head coach of this year’s CIF champion basketball team. “That’s Spencer though. Whatever he needs to be done, he does with perfect technique. Across all lines, when we ran any type of drill, he works so hard that everyone else on the team can’t help but follow him.”

And while Brooks appreciates Klehn for always being coachable, he was also impressed with Klehn’s ability to think on the fly and outside the box.

Reading situations and suggesting plays was normal for Klehn.

“Normally obedient kids keep to themselves and do what they're told,” says Brooks. “But he’s not just a follower. He would throw out suggestions to me. Good suggestions. With how smart he is, how hard he works and the type of leader he is, he’s anything you could ask for in a player.”

Now Klehn’s next step will be taking his experience and leadership to the United State Military Academy at West Point.

Last summer, Klehn attended summer programs at both West Point and the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

While he enjoyed both, Klehn felt the military academy was a better fit.

So he wrote a letter to Congressman Buck McKeon asking for a nomination to West Point.

In December he had an interview with academy grads nominated by McKeon previously where they asked him about why he wanted to attend the academy, his time at Trinity and more.

And in typical Klehn fashion, he overprepared.

“There were more questions I was prepared to answer but they didn’t ask,” he says. “There were some books about the types of questions they ask in these interviews so I got those and I did some mock interviews with some teachers and my college advisor.”

He learned he had received the nomination in January and will be arriving at West Point on July 2.

“I’m nervous and excited. At first I was worried about the physical aspect,” says Klehn. “That’s something I can prepare for. But I talked with a couple of academy grads about their experience there and they told me that the physical stuff isn’t the hard part. There’s being yelled at, all the work that has to be done and a lot of stuff you have to memorize. But I’m excited about the opportunity.”

A huge gain for West Point is also a huge loss for Trinity.

No one is expecting to replace Klehn next year. But he did make sure that there were people in place to keep the programs successful.

“I’ve always looked up to Spencer,” says junior Ryan Brooks, John’s son. “We’ve played seven years of sports together just at Trinity alone. Certain people have been under him for a long time and he’s been an example to us. He has a whole line of people ready to take over the leadership role he’s had.

“He even passed it on to me a little this year. We shared that leadership role this year and talked about it a lot. It’s a hard thing to try to follow him up but he’s helped me understand how to do it.”

The championships will always be there, but the impact he had on the people of Trinity will be Klehn’s legacy.

“We’ve had a lot of great people come through Trinity but Spencer has to be one of, if not the, top ones,” says Buchanan. “He’s had success around him for a long time and that’s why I think he’ll do great things for our nation. He’ll be there to serve and help other people around him. He’ll be the best he can be, making everyone else around him better. He’s a true leader.”


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