Fall Sports Football Sports

Rob Needham ’15: Football

Andover Football’s only four-year team member, Captain Rob Needham ’15, is leading the charge to finish out the season on a high note after a rocky start.

Needham’s unparalleled work ethic has set him apart in his four years on the team, and he has not let his play drop. He is leading the team on defense, with 20 tackles and six sacks in just three games. In addition to his usual role as an outside linebacker, he is seeing more and more time at right tackle, protecting the quarterback and igniting the running game.

Hailing from North Reading, M.A., Needham began playing football in second grade. These formative years on the football field proved valuable when Needham made the varsity team as a Junior at Andover.

During one of the first games that year, Needham injured his leg and was out for the rest of the season. When the next season rolled around, Needham proved himself as a defensive end and has been a crucial part of the starting lineup since.

“He came all the way back, and that’s indicative of him,” said Head Coach Leon Modeste.

Needham added, “It sucked, but realistically it showed me what Andover Football was really about. My first day back after I broke my leg and I came up to practice, every single person on the team came and shook my hand. I was a Junior, and all the older kids on the team just picked me up. That really taught me something about the kind of place this is.”

That experience has shaped the way Needham views this team and his duty. “That circles back to where we are now,” he said. “I won’t say that winning isn’t the most important thing, but, in order to win, you need to have that team chemistry and those bonds with every member of the team, new and old.”

Needham loves the atmosphere of Andover Football and is particularly fond of Andover-Exeter weekend at the end of the season. “Every year you are guaranteed that game. It is bigger than most college games,” said Needham.

Three games into the season, Andover Football has yet to take home a win, but Needham is not discouraged.

“We have to play angry,” said Needham. “We’ve got to play like we can’t lose again. Not that we don’t want to lose again, but that we can’t.”

A natural leader, Needham motivates the team and creates a positive atmosphere, even when faced with adversity.

“Every week we go in and we say, ‘This has to be our last loss.’ That’s the attitude going forward,” continued Needham.

Needham is known to let his actions do the talking, rather than his words.

“He is not a loud ‘rah-rah’ guy,” said Modeste. “He is one of those captains who doesn’t have to say a lot but people follow him because of his work ethic.”

Modeste went on to praise Needham’s extensive skillset and industrious nature.

“People know him out there on the other team. He doesn’t get frustrated. He just plays harder,” said Modeste.

Needham’s teammates are also quick to point out his strengths as a Captain and a player.

“He sets an example all the time, both on and off the field,” said Maxwell Anthony ’15.

Needham strives to incorporate everyone on the team, including the younger players.

“He makes the new guys so comfortable, not only being on the team, but being at Andover in general,” said Rahmel Dixon ’17, who joined the team after playing Junior Varsity last year .

Needham is not only a willing leader on the gridiron but also a role model for his teammates.

“[Needham] emails us all the time, keeping us straight [and discouraging us from] cutting classes and all that stuff,” said Matt Whalen ’16.

Even though the team is struggling to replicate last season’s dominance, Needham plans to keep the team motivated and resilient in the face of defeat.

Needham added, “One thing I always try to keep on my mind is this quote from Vince Lombardi: ‘Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.’”