Varsity Wrestling · Spencer Phillips – Lilly Endowment Scholar

It was a pleasant breath of positive air yesterday morning when McCutcheon teachers, counselors, and administrators welcomed Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette CEO, David Lasater, who brought with him a truly life-changing surprise.  Mr. Lasater was representing the Eli Lilly Endowment Foundation, which annually awards 143 graduating Indiana seniors with an incredibly unique scholarship.  Winners of the Lilly Endowment scholarship have their hard work rewarded with a full-tuition scholarship to any accredited public or private four-year college/university in the state of Indiana. This year, three McCutcheon Mavericks earned this exceptional opportunity:  Elley Adkins, Claudia Albrecht, and Spencer Phillips!

Spencer Phillips holds a laptop where fellow Lilly Scholars, Elley Adkins & Claudia Albrecht Zoom’d in for the great news. Spencer’s twin sister, Sheridan, and MHS Counselor Earl Coleman hold signs in support of these tremendous Mavericks!

While only the top students in the state even qualify for this scholarship, no one in attendance at Monday morning’s presentation was surprised when these three well-deserving Mavericks’ names were announced.  Their dedication to their academics, their positive demeanor in the classroom, and their overall contributions to McCutcheon’s culture are truly unparalleled.

However, only one of McCutcheon’s Lilly Scholars is also an elite varsity athlete.  Senior Spencer Phillips is an Academic All-State athlete who is a 2x NCC, Sectional, and Regional Champion in wrestling.  Heading into his final year in a Maverick uniform, Spencer has amassed 89 IHSAA career wins.  Despite having earned all of these academic and athletic accolades, you would be hard-pressed to find a more modest and humble student-athlete.  Especially with the heart-ache and hard times that Spencer and his twin sister Sheridan have experienced over the past few years.

Spencer looking to pin his opponent with his sister Shayla smiling on as she records her little brother (Photo by Drew Linder)

The Phillips twins tragically and suddenly lost their older sister Shayla during their freshman year to a viral brain infection, and have had to adjust to life in her absence.  Shayla was a manager for the Wrestling team, and along with Sheridan, was Spencer’s #1 fan.  But overcoming tragedy, loss, and hardships is a process that is not done alone.  Maybe that’s why Spencer speaks with a wisdom and perspective way beyond his age.  He readily acknowledges that his family, coaches, teammates, and the McCutcheon community are the reasons he continues to persevere.  We recently caught up with the scholar student-athlete and asked him about the thrill of being named an Eli Lilly Scholarship recipient:

Tell us about the immediate feelings you experienced after learning you were a Lilly Endowment Scholarship winner?
Spencer:  “I was so overwhelmed by this surprise. It was like I forgot how to talk for the rest of the day. I kept stumbling over my words.”
Your sister, teachers, counselors, admins were all there to surprise you with this honor, but who was the person you were most excited about calling/texting after you learned about your scholarship? 
Spencer:  “The person I was most excited to tell was my girlfriend, Katie. She is such a big support. It would have been my twin, Sheri, but she was already there! Katie also found out before I got the chance to tell her…”
What schools are you looking at for next fall, and what would you like to study?
Spencer:  “I am planning to pursue engineering and wrestling. I have looked at Purdue, Wabash, Manchester, Rose-Hulman, and Indiana Tech.”
To the younger student-athletes in our area:  What advice would you give them on how to succeed in academics, school, family, sports, work, etc?
Spencer:  “To the younger-student athletes: You’ve got to know that the process is not glorious. The results are. To get to where you want to go, trust the process, keep grinding, and avoid bad influences. This will impact your social life but you have got to decide what is important to you.”
Spencer poses with fellow Regional Champs, Evan Burge, and Tyler Brubaker.

Who are some of your mentors that have helped you develop into the Lilly Scholar that you are today, and what important lessons have they instilled in you?  

Spencer:  “Some of the mentors that I have looked up to include: Hunter Ruble, Drew Linder, Carlos Lopez, Shayla Phillips, and Evan Burge. They have taught me about leading, picking the right training partners, and always keep moving.”

Who are some of the “people in your corner” that you would like to thank or shout out?

Spencer:  “People that deserve thanks for this accomplishment: Coach Wallace, Coach Stall, Coach Hysong, Coach Metzger, Coach Holmes, Coach Bailey, Coach West, Coach Kult, Coach Fulk, Coach All, Coach Peterson, Coach Denham, Mr. Menon, Mrs. Carpenter, Mrs. Cox, Ms. Aubuchon, Mrs. Meyer, Mrs. Ploss, Mrs. Caldwell-Hopkins, Mr. Grater, Mr. McKeever, Mr. McKee, Mrs. Ploss, Mr. Tilley, Mrs. Betz, Mr. Coleman, Mr. Walden, Mrs. Kendall, Mr. O’Shea, Mr. Mcintyre, John Montero, RJ Inman, Rylan Whalen, The McCutcheon Volleyball Family, and Sheridan Phillips. Yes, the list is long but this is honestly who needs thanks. This was not a one-person operation. This is not including the people who supported this success and did not want recognition.”

What does being a MAV mean to you?

Spencer:  “Being a MAV means so much because my family and the many other families that have supported me have history here. Being a MAV means I am a pioneer and I am going to pave the way for more rich McCutcheon history.  My experience at McCutcheon has been so amazing. Such an amazing place to chase my dreams. I hope I can keep in touch with the community and eventually give back.”

There is nothing more special than being around someone who goes out of their way to make life more beautiful for others.  If you are still reading this blog, Spencer has probably been that type of person in your life.  Thank you, Mr. Phillips, for all that you have done for the culture and community here at McCutcheon.  Keep grinding and continue to win the day, young man!  GO MAVS!