By Don Lowe

While it might not have always been seamless for him, 17-year-old senior Jonah Spieker has shown uncanny ability to balance academics in homeschool studies and to showcase terrific talents for the Webb City Cardinals High School football team during a solid playing career within a public-school setting for athletics. 

“It was challenging, especially before I was able to drive,” Spieker admits of juggling education and sports across different playing fields, so to speak. “It was not uncommon for my days to start at 5:30 a.m. so I could get my work done. I also worked a lot of Saturdays.” 

Interestingly, Spieker didn’t even start playing for Webb City until his ninth-grade year when the school district officially approved homeschool students to participate in athletics. 

Spieker recalls, “I saw very little time on the field as a freshman. I had come into the football program late and missed all the summer practices since Webb City had not changed their policy to allow homeschool participation in sports until August (2020). 

“The offseason after my freshman year was a defining time in my high school football career. I had seen very little playing time on the freshman team, which crushed my spirits and hopes of becoming a varsity starter.” 

Spieker persevered and he reflects, “Instead of accepting mediocrity, I trained like a madman in the weight room and studied countless hours of film to give myself the best opportunity to be successful. 

“My sophomore year, I switched to only playing tight end and began to earn reps and starts on the varsity team.” 

Fast forward to his senior year this past fall and Spieker’s phenomenal play proved just how far he’d come, while being lauded with the Webb City Football Cardinal Award, as well as Southwest Missouri Football Coaches Association Class 5 1st Team recognition and Missouri Football Coaches Association 1st Team All-District accolades, among numerous other honors. 

Spieker, who first started playing flag football in first grade and then tackle football in third grade, has literally been raised on the gridiron. “As a baby and toddler, I attended my uncle’s (Missouri Tigers standout center Adam Spieker) games at MIZZOU. 

“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love the game of football. My favorite part of football is the physicality. My favorite part of the game is stacking up the pancake blocks and putting people on their backsides.” 

As he considers what has fueled his ability to perform at a high level, Spieker suggests, “The biggest factor that led to the success I had on the field and in life is being relentless. 

 “To be successful in football, or any other sport for that matter, you must have great work ethic and surround yourself with people who are also willing to work.” 

Spieker appreciates that being a homeschool student had no impact on how he meshed with fellow players and staff on the Cardinals gridiron squad, and he says, “I have a great relationship with my coaches and teammates. 

“In fact, many of my teammates never knew that I wasn’t a traditional student. As far as I know, the ones that knew never cared. I was able to earn the respect of my teammates. Relationships with my teammates were not strained because of the irregularity of my education.”

Spieker has reason to be happy with how he’s handled his unique situation, and he maintains, “Because I was able to juggle both (studies and sports), I received an exceptional education at home, and I was able to develop and grow as an athlete under the coaching and mentorship at Webb City. I am so thankful for the opportunity I was given to participate.”

Webb City Cardinals Senior Football Star Jonah Spieker Fast Facts

Age: 17 

Height and Weight: 6’2”, 215 pounds 

Grade in School: 12th 

Parents: Andrew and Angela Spieker 

Sibling: Ezekiel Spieker 

Favorite Subject in School: History 

College: Plans to attend Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, in the fall 

Favorite Food: Steak 

Favorite Sports Movie: “Remember the Titans” 

Favorite NFL or College Football Player: Rob Gronkowski, former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Pro Tight End