DEARBORN – Often, a child of a successful athlete has difficulty living up to that standard.
To this point, that’s not the case with Aidan Hutchinson.
He plays a similar position as did his father Chris, an All-America defensive lineman at University of Michigan in 1992. But there are differences as well between father and son – although like his dad, Aidan also will head to Ann Arbor after he graduates from Dearborn Divine Child.
All Falcons fourth-year coach John Filiatraut knows is that he hit the lottery when the Hutchinsons decided Aidan would attend Divine Child – not that he didn’t see it coming, given Aidan’s mother, Melissa Hutchinson, and his two older sisters, Mia and Aria, all attended the Catholic school.
“They’re great people,” said Filiatraut, a 1986 Divine Child graduate. “It’s a treat. Coaches can complain and whine with the best of them. But we’re lucky to have Aidan.
“And Chris is not very intrusive. I was worried about that at the beginning. With his background, it would be easy to step in. We as coaches are trying to do things right here. (Chris) is committed to Aidan and for him to do this on his own, and not cast a shadow on Aidan.”
Coming off its winningest season (10-3) since 1985 and a Division 3 Semifinals berth in 2016, Divine Child is off to a 3-0 start this fall.
As for those differences between father and son, size is one. The elder Hutchinson was 6-foot-2 and weighed 221 pounds when he graduated from high school. His playing weight at U-M was 250. His son is 6-6 and weighs 255 pounds, and is considered one of the top prospects in the class of 2018. Aidan plays defensive end and tight end. His father was a defensive tackle.
Chris Hutchinson grew up in Houston and played football at Cypress Creek High before going on to University of Michigan, where he played four seasons and was named first team All-America as a senior defensive lineman in 1992. Chris Hutchinson said private school education was all new to him, but he couldn’t be more pleased with the educational – and now with his son – athletic experiences his family has enjoyed.
Not surprisingly, Aidan has accepted a scholarship offer to attend U-M. He did make unofficial visits to Notre Dame and Wisconsin, in addition to his interest in attending Penn State, but eventually U-M won out.
And so far his senior season has unfolded as planned.
“We’re 3-0. It’s great,” he said. “Michigan is undefeated. We’re undefeated. It’s all great.”
Chris Hutchinson didn’t allow Aidan to play tackle football until he was in the seventh grade. Aidan did play flag football, and other sports like soccer, but his father held him out of the physical contact until he thought Aidan was ready.
“It was a big change for me,” Aidan said of playing tackle football. “I had to learn a lot because most of the other kids had been playing two or three years. It wasn’t too bad a transition. I just had to learn quickly.”
Despite his size, and his weight as an infant (11 pounds, one ounce), Aidan wasn’t a large child growing up. He weighed 135 pounds when he was in the eighth grade, then 160 as a freshman playing on the line on Divine Child’s junior varsity team. Over the next two years, he grew seven inches and added 70 pounds.
“I’ve been (growing) all through high school,” he said. “Am I done growing? I don’t think so, but I’m hoping I am.”
The answer is likely the former. Aidan just turned 17 last month (Aug. 9).
Though his size is a plus once he gets to college, there are times when it can work against him at the high school level.
“It’s different when you’re 6-6 going against a 6-foot kid,” Chris Hutchinson said. “You have to keep your head down, and stay low.”
Chris Hutchinson, who’s a doctor in the emergency room at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, understands it’s not his place to coach his son from the sideline, even though, as the team physician, it’s his job to be on the sideline. He keeps a safe distance and allows Filiatraut and his staff do their jobs.
At home, it’s a different story. The two view film constantly to determine where improvements can be made.
“Thank God for Hudl,” Chris said. “I only focus on technique. When Aidan tells me they’re using a double team, I ask what type? There are different ways you can use a double team.
“It’s important not to be that dad who coaches. There are way too many dads who do the coaching thing. The hardest thing for me is not to say something, and have him come to me. When they do ask, then you can go forward.”
Aidan is quick for his size, and he attributes much of that quickness and his ability to react quickly to the other sport he plays, lacrosse. He started playing lacrosse the same year he began playing tackle football, and to him they go hand in hand.
“It’s a ton of fun (playing lacrosse),” he said. “My whole group of friends play. All six of us started (on varsity) as freshmen, so we should be pretty good this year. There’s no question it helps me in football. One hundred percent. It helps with my hip movement, and in lacrosse it forces you to back pedal.”
Filiatraut said Hutchinson is a special part of a special team at Divine Child. Its quarterback, Theo Day, is one of the state’s best. Day led the Falcons to the Division 3 Semifinals last season and has committed to sing with Michigan State.
“Aidan gives great effort all of the time,” Filiatraut said. “Honestly, he’s on the shy side. He’s trying to figure it all out. He’s doing his best to be a vocal leader, but it’s not in his nature.
“He’s got a ton of want-to. He wants to be good, and to get better.”
Tom Markowski is a columnist and directs website coverage for the State Champs! Sports Network. He previously covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Deaborn Divine Child’s Aidan Hutchinson grabs a water break while dad and team physician Chris Hutchinson keeps an eye on the field. (Middle) Hutchinson blocks against Benton Harbor during his team’s Week 1 win. (Below) Aidan, Chris, mom Melissa and U-M coach Jim Harbaugh take a photo after Aidan commits to sign with the Wolverines. (Photos courtesy of the Hutchinson family.)
LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.
“We don’t want to lose this kid ever,” said Derek Gribler, the Tigers’ first-year varsity football and baseball coach.
“If we could put a red shirt on this kid every year, we would.”
Athletic director John Guillean, who also coaches varsity basketball, agreed.
“He is what we strive to have all our student-athletes achieve: high GPAs, multi-sport athletes, good, overall well-rounded human beings,” Guillean said.
Schuman has participated in five of the seven boys sports Lawrence sponsors.
As a freshman and sophomore, Schuman played football, wrestled, ran track and played baseball.
He had wrestled since he was 4, and went from the 119-pound weight class as a freshman to 145 the following year. That sophomore season he qualified for his Individual Regional. But as a junior, he traded wrestling for basketball.
“My older brother wrestled at Lawrence, so I would come to practices,” he said. “I quit for a couple years (in middle school) because I liked basketball, too. It was hard to do both. Obviously, in high school, I still struggled with choosing,” he added, laughing.
Guillean is thrilled Schuman made the switch.
“He’s 6-(foot-)4, he’s super athletic, defensively he’s a hawk, offensively he can put the ball in the bucket. But really, aside from his skills, just that positive attitude and that positive outlook, not just in a game, but in life in general, is invaluable,” the coach said.
Last season, Schuman earned honorable mention all-league honors in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference, averaging 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Lawrence left the BCS for the Southwest 10 Conference this year, joining Bangor, Bloomingdale, Hartford, Decatur, Comstock, Marcellus, Mendon, Centreville, White Pigeon and Cassopolis. Schuman and senior Tim Coombs will co-captain the Tigers, with Guillean rotating in a third captain.
At a school of fewer than 200 students, Schuman will help lead a varsity team with just nine – joined by seniors Andy Bowen and Gabe Gonzalez, juniors Christian Smith, Noel Saldana, Ben McCaw and Zander Payment, and sophomore Jose Hernandez, who will see time with the junior varsity as well using the fifth-quarter rule.
“I attribute a lot of (last year’s successful transition) to my coach, helping me get ready because it wasn’t so pretty,” the senior said. “But we got into it, got going, and my teammates helped me out a lot.”
Gribler is one coach already looking ahead to spring sports after seeing what Schuman did during football season.
In spite of missing 2½ games with an injury, the wide receiver caught 50 receptions for 870 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I just like the ability to run free, get to hit people, let out some anger,” Schuman laughed.
Gribler said the senior is “an insane athlete.
“On top of his athletic ability, how smart he is in the classroom (3.88 GPA), he helped mold the culture we wanted this year for football. He got our underclassmen the way we wanted them. He was a big asset in many ways.”
Schuman earned all-conference honors for his on-field performance in football as well.
“I would say that my main sport is football,” the senior said. “That’s the one I like the most, spend the most time on.”
In the spring, Schuman competed in both track and baseball, earning all-conference honors in both.
“Doing both is tough,” he said. “I have to say my coaches make it a lot easier for me. They help me a lot and give me the ability to do both, so I really appreciate that.
“Throughout the week you’re traveling every day, it seems like. Baseball twice a week and track, but it’s worth it.”
Schuman’s commitment is so strong that he made a special effort not to let his teammates down last spring.
“He qualified for state in the long jump and did his jumps up in Grand Rapids, then he drove all the way to Kalamazoo to play in the District baseball game,” Guillean said. “That speaks volumes about who this kid is. He did his jumps at 9 a.m. (but did not advance) and made it back to Kalamazoo for a 12:15 game.”
Big shoes to fill
As the youngest of four children of Mark and Gretchen Schuman, the senior was following a family tradition in sports.
Oldest brother Matthew played football, basketball and baseball as well as competed in pole vault and wrestling.
Middle bother Christopher competed in football, wrestling and baseball.
Sister Stephanie played basketball, volleyball and softball.
“I like to say they blazed a pretty good trail for me at this high school,” Schuman said.
As for feeling pressure to live up to his siblings, “I used to when I was younger, but now I feel like I’ve made my own way and done enough things to be proud of that I’m happy with it.”
His own way led him to achieve something none of the others did.
He was named the Tigers’ Male Athlete of the Year, just the third junior to earn the boys honor over the last 25 years.
“I was very honored to win that as a junior,” Schuman said. “There were good athletes in the grade above me. I guess hard work pays off.”
Guillean said while Schuman is “darn good at every sport here,” an athlete does not have to be a “top dog” in every sport.
“Learn how to take a back seat,” he said. “Learn how to be a role player. That will make you a better teammate and a well-rounded human being.
“Johnny has that work ethic, in the classroom, on the field, on the court, on the track. It doesn’t go unnoticed and, obviously, he’s reaping the benefits now.”
Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at email@example.com with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence’s John Schuman has participated in five varsity sports during his first 3½ years of high school. (Middle) Lawrence athletic director John Guillean. (Below) Lawrence football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (Action photos courtesy of John Schuman; head shots by Pam Shebest.)