Linfield football embodies student-athletes

Kaelia Neal, Sports editor

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When it’s crunch time, Spencer Payne is a teammate you can depend on.

Payne, a junior and McMinnville native, is a running back for the Linfield football team. He is majoring in education.

When he was younger, Payne was a soccer player, but his father told him he needed to find a new sport. He started playing football in the third grade and “ended up loving it.”

Payne is happy with the way the season is going so far for the Linfield Wildcats. Team unity has been key this season.

“It’s a much different team than last year,” Payne said. “It has taken some time to get some chemistry but that happens every year.”

This season, Payne’s goal for his team is to win the national championship. The ’Cats are ranked first in the Northwest Conference standings with a record of two wins and no losses to start the season.

Payne is a key player to Linfield’s success. As a sophomore, he led the team in carries in the 2014 season.

“I try to make the most out of every carry I get,” Payne said. “My goal every week is to do my best.”

Junior quarterback Sam Riddle describes Payne as his best friend on the team, and expects him to “give it his all every time he steps onto the field.”

“Spencer is one of the most exciting football players to watch. I’ve never played with such a gifted athlete,” Riddle said.

“He is such a vital piece for our offense and if he gives it his all, our chances of winning automatically go up. With guys like Spencer on our team, I like our chances this season,” he said.

As well as football, Payne competes in track as a sprinter for the Wildcats.

“I feel like I wouldn’t be the football player I am without track,” Payne said. Track helps “with speed” and ‘my running form.”

Payne loves the Linfield team atmosphere. Compared to other programs, Linfield brings a different aspect to what it means to be a team.

Without Linfield football, Payne said he would not have made the friendships he has. He said he has met some of his best friends as a Wildcat.

Football has taught Payne life lessons, and he reflects his character of being a good person on and off the field.

“Spencer is a teammate who is willing to do anything for team,” Riddle said. “He is a guy that you can depend on when it’s crunch time.”