COLUMBIA CITY — Jackie Leeuw, a senior at Columbia City High School, was the only representative from Whitley County at the state football championship last weekend.
Leeuw had the opportunity to walk the grid at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, home of the Colts — not compete, but to perform the “Star Spangled Banner.”
“I talked to Geoff Penrod (athletic director for CCHS) and told him I wanted to sing the National Anthem,” said Leeuw. “He made all the arrangements.”
Leeuw is not involved in high school choir, nor has she had any formal training. She simply sees singing as a “fun thing.”
In the expansive stadium, Leeuw said she was not nervous to sing the National Anthem, a capella in front of the crowd before the IHSAA Class 3A championship game.
“Normally I just focus on one spot and that helps me stay calm,” Leeuw said. “But I was really comfortable and I felt good enough to look around at the fans.”
Before taking the field at game time, Leeuw had a chance to rehearse with Colts staff.
“The positive response from my family was expected,” Leeuw said. “It was the positive response from others — from people I didn’t even know that shocked me.”
Leeuw has previously sung the National Anthem for Columbia City High School sporting events. Although singing for a home crowd is always special, Leeuw said her time in Indianapolis was a memory she won’t soon forget.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “I want to do it again.”