Brunswick High senior Mitch Lienert, an accomplishment trumpet player, carries a 4.0 GPA and has averaged 114 yards rushing this fall for the 6-0 Dragons. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

BRUNSWICK – At St. John’s Catholic School, Mitch Lienert was always the fast kid on the playground, and in gym class. But his physical education teacher did not think much of him as an athlete.

“He was a kid that I never thought would do that well,” Dan Cooper said. “Tall and skinny. Never seemed very tough.”

Cooper’s opinion matters, since he is also the Brunswick High head football coach.

Cooper’s opinion also changed. Lienert may be his best player this season.

“He’s killing it for us right now,” Cooper said. “Last year, he got his chance to start, and he has gotten better and better every game.”

A starting running back and linebacker for the undefeated Dragons, Lienert averages 114 yards rushing a game (and 13 yards a carry), and five tackles a game.

Lienert’s abilities extend well beyond the football field – his track prowess and academics have the University of Rochester interested in Lienert. He is a sprinter (fourth in the Class A 100-meter last spring, with a 11.38 time) and he also carries a 4.0 GPA. He plans to major in optical engineering at Rochester (rated among the nation’s top 30 universities by U.S. News and World Report).

When Lienert does pack up for college next year, he will bring along his trumpet. He’s part of three stellar ensembles at Brunswick High, and has earned individual recognition as well (District 3 Jazz Festival Award for Outstanding Musicianship).

Q: How did you get started playing the trumpet?

A: I’ve been playing since the fourth grade. My brother played trumpet and my sister played flute. So, I just played the trumpet we had (at home) … Now I’m in three ensembles in high school. The honors wind ensemble, which got second in Festival Disney (a national competition in Orlando, in the spring); the honors jazz ensemble, which got first in Festival Disney; and the concert ensemble.

Q: What style do you like the best?

A: I do like jazz. Fortunately, I’ve been exposed to a lot (of styles).  Jazz is my favorite because it’s a little more off the rails; you can have your own artistic touch with it, which is something I enjoy very much. But also, there is a lot of beauty in symphonic band pieces that I think are underrated nowadays, but are still really cool.

Q: A favorite musician?

A:  All depending on mood, but my favorite musician has to be Maynard Ferguson. I’ve kind of replicated his style of music into my playing. But if I’m in another mood, it might be Freddie Hubbard.

Q: Let’s talk football. Your coach said he wasn’t sure of our abilities when he saw you at St. John’s.

A: I’m not the bulkiest person.

Q: And you’re still not the bulkiest (6-foot, 155 pounds). When did you emerge as a starter?

A: The beginning of last year, I was starting on defense as a linebacker. Then we played Falmouth the first game and two of our big starters went down. That gave me an opportunity to sub in on offense. By the playoffs, I was starting both offense and defense. (Note: in the Class B North title game, Lienert rushed for 170 yards.)

Q: You’ve always been fast, but you didn’t join a track team until high school?

A: I never ran competitively until then. My dad played football when he was young, but ended up running cross country. He’s the one who convinced me to do track.  That’s paid off.

Q: How many are in your family.

A: My parents, an (older) sister and brother – so five total, or six if you count my dog, Moxie.

Q: What kind of dog?

A: Norwegian elkhound/husky mix. She looks like a wolf. I’ve grown up with Moxie.  She’s 11, but she’s doing well, still acting like a puppy.

Q: If the University of Rochester is looking at you, I assume you’re a good student. What are some of your subjects, and what’s your favorite?

A: I like math and science. Physics is applied math. I am taking AP Calculus BC, and also AP Statistics, and honors physics.

Q: You sound busy. What’s a typical day for you?

A: My schedule on Thursday begins at 7 a.m. with honors wind ensemble for 40 minutes. Then I go to school. That ends at 2:10 and (football) practice starts at 2:45. We practice until 5:30. I eat dinner. Then jazz from 6 to 8 (p.m.). Then I go home and do homework … yeah, it’s a lot.

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