Humble Work Ethic Fuels Success of Dirksen

February 25, 2017

The Marion Local football program might be one of Ohio’s best-kept secrets. The school has an enrollment of just around 320 kids each year but the Flyers have won nine State Titles since 2000.

It’s clear the Flyers have a rock solid program and with that comes talent but the most talented player might be 2018 offensive lineman John Dirksen.

“He was just born to be a Division-I college football player,” head coach Tim Goodwin told Irish Sports Daily. “He’s been abnormally large his entire life. He just has the physical gifts that he was born with to play at that kind of level.”

The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder will have the opportunity to play big-time college football as Notre Dame, Iowa State, Kentucky, Michigan State and Northwestern have offered.

The recruiting process is a stressful process for most kids and it’s likely no different for Dirksen but his father believes he is handling it well.

“He’s doing very well with it,” Tony Dirksen stated. “John is a very humble kid. He really doesn’t care for attention and has stayed low-key about most of his recruitment. At home, we try to give him space and we don’t talk about football too much. We want to let him be a teenager.

“He has a lot of decisions ahead of him so we’ll see what happens. We are just giving him space to make them.” 

I am just so proud of John as I am all of our kids. All of our children are doing the best they can in their own fields they are going into. - Tony Dirksen, father of 2018 OL John Dirksen
Dirksen’s background is different than some of the top offensive linemen across the nation as his small Ohio town doesn’t get the national recognition of an IMG Academy or Bishop Gorman. With each offer, it’s a reflection of the work Dirksen has put in to get on the radar of major Division-1 programs. 

“It’s an honor,” stated Mr. Dirksen. “I am just so proud of John as I am all of our kids. All of our children are doing the best they can in their own fields they are going into.

“John deserves everything he gets because he is a worker. He just has drive. It’s amazing. I have never heard him come home from practice and say ‘Oh that was awful’ or complain the next morning about being sore. You never hear stuff like that from him. I think it’s really unusual for a kid his age. He knows what he wants and he goes after it.” 

That work ethic has been handed down through the Dirksen family and John is simply carrying on the family expectation. It’s also part of the community and football program led by Tim Goodwin.

“Going back to his grandfather being on the farm, it’s expected of you as it is for the whole community,” Dirksen said of his son’s work ethic. “A lot of us believe we have so much success with our football because of work ethic and the values the parents have spent teaching the kids.

“We have a small community but a lot of good schools around here. Coldwater, Minster and St. Henry, they’re all top notch.”

Goodwin has been one of many instrumental figures in Dirksen’s life and has definitely helped him get exposure to continue his football and academic career.

“We’re thankful John has been able to be part of the outstanding football program that Coach Goodwin and his staff run,” explained Dirksen. “They instill values of discipline and determination that all their players will use throughout their lives. They have also done a lot of work on John’s behalf when it comes to getting leads out to recruiters too.”

As mentioned, Marion Local is an Ohio powerhouse but part of that is due to their regular season schedule. The Flyers play bigger schools and schools that have won multiple titles in their respective divisions. 

“Anytime you can play the best teams around, you might get licked once in a while but it makes you better,” stated Dirksen. “There isn’t much sense in playing teams that is a pushover.

“The competitive nature of the MAC (Midwest Athletic Conference) is definitely a reason why he is getting exposure because of what the football team has done in the conference. It draws more attention to him and the program.”

He doesn’t talk smack talk. He’s going to go out there and do it to you on the field. - Tony Dirksen
The four-star prospect plays much like you’d expect and much like Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand expects out of his guys.

“I think his actions speak a lot bigger than words,” the elder Dirksen said. “He doesn’t talk smack talk. He’s going to go out there and do it to you on the field.”

‘Father Ken’ has also had a large part in Dirksen’s life and that includes a large involvement in activities outside of football.

“He’s just a really good kid,” said Dirksen. “John is active in his church and at his school. He’s an officer in some of the clubs at school. He’s trying to make a difference in whatever he does. We’re really proud of him.”

With a large Catholic presence in the community, the offer from Notre Dame spoke volumes. The combination of a faith-based education, academics and athletics might be hard for Dirksen to turn down in the end, but he’s still evaluating his options. 

“You kind of just want to pinch yourself to make sure it’s really happening,” laughed Dirksen. “There was a lot of high-fiving going around and what not. He hasn’t decided, but it’s pretty crazy.

“I rooted for the Buckeyes this year. I think with John, it’s more about what’s the best fit for his schooling and all the other parts that go into deciding where he is going to get his education. He’s put a lot of thought into things.”

Dirksen remains firm in staying out of his son’s recruitment and is letting John handle it at his pace. However, he admits it’s sometimes tough to not get excited or share an opinion.

“We never talk to recruiters and that’s all done through the high school coach,” explained Dirksen. “John talks directly to the college coaches and they set up visitation days. I don’t know if he has anything lined up with Notre Dame yet. We’re kind of the last to know. He normally says ‘By the way, we’re going to this college.’

“We’re trying to get our lips zipped a little bit. We can be persuasive once in a while when you’re a parent.”

Dirksen is going to continue to work and try to lead Marion Local to back-to-back State Titles his senior year with the lessons taught to him by his parents and figures around him.

“We have always tried to be the best version of ourselves whenever we go out every day into the world,” said Dirksen. “We treat people with respect and try to make a difference wherever we can. Our faith is important for us and he’s definitely taken that on.

“I feel his work ethic is in the genes or what not. We’re proud to see him and all of our kids going out there and giving it 100 percent every day.”
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