VICTOR - Hank MacPherson marks a gym teacher's call out to get him involved in playing football as a pivotal moment of his four years of high school.
"Playing football was probably the highlight of high school for me, besides meeting the friends I've made here," MacPherson said.
To that point school had been something of a grind that he always felt was something he just had to endure. But since that day during his sophomore year, MacPherson said he's had a different take on school.
"I found a new reason to enjoy school," MacPherson said.
His new focus moved him away from a group of friends that he admits was not up to much good and didn't really care about school. Many of those friends dropped out of high school, MacPherson said.
Dan Johnston, principal at Victor High School, said MacPherson became engaged at school and it showed. In the end, Johnston said, MacPherson graduated as a well-rounded individual who valued what school meant for him.
"He made a turnaround that's for sure," Johnston said. "I wouldn't say he was a bad kid at all but he didn't know where he was headed."
He does now.
In the fall MacPherson is headed to the University of Montana, where he said he is inclined to study psychology and will certainly try to gain a walk-on spot with the Grizzly football team.
"That's pretty much the whole reason I want to go to college," MacPherson said. "To play some ball."
In the meantime, the self-described gym-junkie and TV hater - "it's just a waste of time" - said when he's not working as a line cook at the Coffee Cup in Hamilton, he will continue workout with the Victor High School football team during the summer.
That will help keep him in shape and gives him a way to give something back to the program and coach that meant so much to him, he said.
MacPherson described his coach, Brandon Howell, as "pretty much my hero."
His time with the Pirates football team was indeed well spent.
After playing multiple positions on both sides of the ball, MacPherson was selected to play in the Bob Cleverly Memorial All-Star Game in Butte, which showcases some of Montana's top talent from eight-man Class C football.
MacPherson said it was the game of his life: playing at the nose tackle spot, he said he recorded six tackles and a fumble recovery in the four series he logged in the game.
The next day he returned to Victor for his graduation ceremony.
"It was one of the busiest weeks of my life," MacPherson said of a run up to graduation that included a trip to the state track and field championships as part of Victor's relay team.
If it's been the busiest time for Hank MacPherson, it's been the proudest for his mom, Ethel.
Ethel Macpherson, who adopted Hank when he was just an infant, said she thinks her boy is perfect.
"I couldn't have asked for a better kid," she said.
Such praise likely means a lot to a son who called his mom "the biggest influence in my life and the most positive one."
Reporter Sepp Jannotta can be reached at 363-3300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.