When you watch the Lake Country Chiefs 8th Grade Red football team play, it doesn’t take long for Chandler Pulvermacher to stand out. The lanky running back sweeps around the edges at great speed, cuts back with a smoothness not often seen from a back at this level and is a nightmare to defend. Play him straight up and get run over. Overpursue and watch him cut back into a wide-open terrain.
It’s not for nothing that his coach, Matt McQuestion, says Pulvermacher has all the tools to be great when he moves on to play for the Arrowhead Warhawks in the years to come. “He’s the best I’ve ever seen,” McQuestion said, comparing Pulvermacher’s talent to Dominic Todarello, who led Arrowhead to the state championship in 2012.
Such praise rolls off the back of Pulvermacher with the same ease that opposing tacklers do. Speaking to the eighth-grader at the end of his practice earlier this week, his low-key unassuming humility is the first thing that stands out.
“I’m just a normal 13-year-old,” he said. “I like to hang out with my brothers and my friends.” Pulvermacher works at getting his homework done efficiently enough to allow him some time to relax in the evenings when practice is done.
His off-the-field workouts are relatively mild—“I don’t do much,” he said regarding his routine away from the structured regimen offered by the Chiefs practice schedule. “We have a lifting room in our house that I’ll go sometimes with my older brother, but not a lot.” Though that will have to change if he hopes to continue his success through high school, Pulvermacher is indeed, as he says “a normal 13-year-old.”
The routine of playing youth football is not easy and requires kids to learn organizational skills and to manage their time. Pulvermacher aims at finishing his homework in study hall, a place that can offer an easy temptation to waste time for those who aren’t quite as busy. “And Wednesday’s my day,” he said regarding really hitting the books. Wednesday, along with Friday, are days that all Chiefs teams are given off from the routine of practice.
From August through late October Pulvermacher lives the routine of keeping up with school, working at practice and being up at 6:30 AM each day. Playing football is for him, as it is for all the kids on the Chiefs’ teams, a way to gently introduce them to the demands they’ll eventually face year-round and every day.
The love for football came from Chandler’s father, who got him involved in the flag football program that serves 1st thru 4th grade. But while paternal influence can nudge in a certain direction, eventually every kid decides whether he truly loves the game himself. Pulvermacher clearly does, and he said that’s the first thing he would bring up to kids in fifth grade, if asked to explain why they should continue to play the sport once it’s time to put on the pads and tackle.
“If they don’t like it they don’t, but I’d ask someone to give it a chance,” Pulvermacher said regarding a theoretical conversation he might have with a wavering prospect. “It’s a great experience and it helps me in a lot of ways outside of football. The coaches are always teaching how to be leaders in life, always helping us try and be better.”
Like any eighth-grader, Pulvermacher has areas that need to be improved. McQuestion spoke of the need for improved conditioning and strength as the primary areas. But the coach quickly returned to Pulvermacher’s down-to-earth attitude, his leadership skills within the team and the potential his immense physical tools give him.
Pulvermacher is the kind of player who represents not just his team and the Lake Country Chiefs association well, but he’s a positive face for the sport of football, thanks to a friendly demeanor off the field and a hard-nosed competitiveness between the lines.
“He could be one of the best,” McQuestion said. “But what’ s unique is how humble he is.”