Ridge Stewart isn't just a starting offensive lineman on the Seabreeze football team. He's also in the school's orchestra and an aspiring NASA engineer.
BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER
It’s hard to put Ridge Stewart in any particular category of high school students.
He’s a starting offensive lineman for the Seabreeze High School football team. But he’s also the first cello in the school orchestra and an aspiring NASA engineer.
A typical school day starts with him in orchestra class, where he’ll either conduct or play. In seventh period, he has football and weightlifting.
“They’re completely different spectrums of school,” Stewart said. “But, I mean, I’ve done it for a while, so it’s just kind of like, I don’t even think about the transition.”
Stewart started playing cello at 11 years old, at Ormond Beach Middle School, in part because it’s what his oldest sister, Janie, played. His two other sisters, both older than he is, played the violin.
“In my opinion, the violin was too small,” he said. “The bass is too big. But the cello has the high notes and the low notes. So it’s kind of like the full range.”
Stewart is also on the basketball and track and field teams, in addition to having a GPA over 4.0 and being a member of the National Honors Society.
The senior says he’ll either go to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University or the University of Florida next year. He wants to study aerospace engineering.
“I’ve always like space, in general,” Stewart said. “I like watching the (space) shuttle when it goes off. I always liked NASA. I like movies like that: "Star Wars," "Star Trek," things like that.”
He doesn’t necessarily have to be the one being sent up into space. He simply likes rockets. He likes the idea of being on the ground and making something go explode into the atmosphere.
Any one of Stewart's extracurricular activities would be challenging with his academic workload, which includes advanced level calculus.
“I know what’s involved, time-wise,” his father, J.R. Stewart, said. “So I’m amazed. He’s much more goal-oriented and persistent to get things done than I ever was. I don’t know where he gets it from.”
His activities may be varied, but one common element connects everything he does: discipline.
“Practice makes perfect,” Stewart said. “It doesn’t matter what you do, whether it’s playing the cello or on the football field — hitting people — you have to practice.”
During Seabreeze’s homecoming game Sept. 28, there was a rare occasion when two of Stewart’s worlds came together.
He helped the Sandcrabs jump out to a 38-7 halftime lead over Titusville, but instead of heading into the locker room with the football team, he joined his other teammates, in the orchestra.
“I think the girl next to me said I smelled bad,” Stewart said when talking about playing at half time. “But I think they liked it, because you always think of the football players and the band geeks as separate. But I think with this, I kind of bridged the gap.”