Hibbing Daily Tribune
HIBBING — Eli Erickson doesn’t take things for granted.
The Hibbing High School junior has the ability to play football, basketball and run track, and he enjoys every minute he’s on the field, court or running surface.
He knows that time is precious because Erickson has an older brother, Peter, who has cerebral palsy, so he doesn’t have the opportunity to do the same things Erickson enjoys doing.
For that reason, Erickson, who has scored two touchdowns and has one interception this season for the Bluejackets, feels blessed because he has the ability to enjoy life to its fullest.
He’s not going to shortchange himself. He’s going to go all out and perform to the best of his abilities.
“I want to use the gifts that God has given me, and point it back to him (Peter),” Erickson said. “From him, I’ve learned to keep my head up and keep going through the tough stuff. Even though it might not seem like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, there always is.”
Erickson has learned valuable lessons from his older brother, but there’s one in particular that might be more important than the others.
“I’ve definitely learned perseverance,” Erickson said. “Even through all of the surgeries he’s gone through and stuff like that, he still gets up every day, wanting to get a job done. He wants to go and do stuff.
“He always has a smile on his face. I feel extremely blessed because it gives me a different perspective on life. I see things the way he’s sees them.”
It’s that kind of attitude that impresses Hibbing football coach Shawn Howard.
“He’s a good, all-around kid,” Howard said. “He does everything we ask him to do on and off of the field. The fact that he cares so much about his brother shows that. He spends a lot of time with, and doing things, with Peter.
“He’s one of those kids you want the other kids to look up to and work toward his work ethic.”
Peter, who attends every one of Erickson’s games, is his biggest fan, and sometimes, critic.
“First of all, he enjoys it a lot,” Erickson said. “I’ll get home, and if I have a good game he’s like, ‘Good game kid, but you sort of didn’t do this right.’ He definitely knows what’s going on, and he points me in the right direction.”
“He’s always sort of been the boss, so he tells me what I need to do, and I go out and try to do it.”
Erickson said growing up with Peter helped him be more aware of his surroundings.
“I think I still grew up, in some ways, at the same pace, but in other ways, he has certain things he needs to do that he needs help with,” Erickson said. “It’s being mature about that.
“I’ve always found it as sort of a blessing. I’m always able to help out and stuff like that.”
How close are the two? They work together during the summer, and guess who’s the boss?
“He and I have a job with the city during the summer,” Erickson said. “We clean up garbage on the Mesabi and Carey Lake Trails. It’s extremely hilarious sometimes because he’s still the boss.
“He tells me what to do. It’s great.”