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Humble mindset guides Brickhandler to growth, stardom

Eli Brickhandler led Whitney to a section championship appearance before moving to Pittsburg. Chris Jackson / Staff Photo
Eli Brickhandler led Whitney to a section championship appearance before moving to Pittsburg. Chris Jackson / Staff Photo

After six months into his time at Pittsburg, now senior quarterback Eli Brickhandler received a note that showed just how far he has come.

Brickhandler – who transferred into Pittsburg from Whitney High School in Rocklin following his father’s move for a job in the Bay Area – remembers when he was a freshman just a few years ago, looking back at a time when he was not as much of an adult as he is today.

And when he entered Pittsburg, the community loved him – as evidenced by one of his language arts teachers who he’s admired ever since taking her class.

“I just went to her each and every day and really talked with her,” Brickhandler said. “She wrote me a note and was just like, ‘Thank you for the six months that I had with you.’ Getting that from a teacher and somebody that I looked up to because she’s older than me and really taught me, was really just like an understanding of I have grown. I have been able to help others when they’re struggling with things.”

What that note also showed was Brickhandler’s background – one filled with stardom off the field, but more importantly one filled with humbleness and appreciating you do have every single moment.

Before moving over to Pittsburg, Brickhandler lived in Rocklin since he was 6 years old, where he came to gain an even greater appreciation of his own life and leading to a humble attitude he carries to this day.

“I feel like my humbleness has come from my dad putting me in environments, not as green I guess you could say, going downtown and training with people downtown with our economics, it really just helps me understand that not everybody’s life is the same way as mine,” Brickhandler said. “You see kids that have everything and they show that they have everything. 

“And I feel like if you were to judge me based off of the person that I am towards you, you wouldn’t think that I came from a high privileged, high economic standpoint. Oftentimes I feel like people judge you because of where you came from.”

When Brickhandler moved over to Pittsburg for his final high school season, he could have stepped right in there and acted like it was his team.

But, even after what he did as a junior at Whitney – throwing for 2,259 yards and 18 touchdowns while helping Whitney to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship game, a remarkable turnaround from the program;s 0-10 campaign the year prior – he didn’t do any of that.

He needed to earn his respect from his teammates. He couldn’t just walk in there and believe everything was going to be perfect.

The coaching staff didn’t hand everything to him either. They let him figure things out on his own, learn the ropes and figure out how to be a leader.

Brickhandler did. He led with his actions – another aspect he learned from his family.

“My parents and my grandfather from a young age always were like lead with your actions because oftentimes when you try to lead with your words but then you don’t represent that, it’s too hard to come back from,” Brickhandler said. “And really looking at the Bible and looking through gospel, you see Jesus, he led with his actions so many times, and just from getting taught from the Bible and through my grandparents and my parents, I’ve learned that leading through actions is going to speak way more volumes than through your words.”

The Brickhandler family is everything to him, too.

His grandfather loves to hear everything about his grandson. He loves to watch his film and give constructive criticism to help him continue developing as a star. He loves to hear about any email or letter from a college.

And, as he’s speaking on the phone, his younger brother, Luke, is smiling at him every chance he gets. He loves watching his older brother garner recognition. When his older brother won a 7 on 7 tournament, there was Luke, smiling, being happier than even those who won, taking pictures with the trophy.

“Just like an example of my little brother this morning he had school and he came into my room and was like, ‘Good morning sunshine.’ And it just brought life to the room,” Brickhandler said. “Like did I want to wake up at 8 in the morning? Probably not, but getting a little “Good morning sunshine” in the morning just really made me feel good about myself. It’s just little things like that I would have never thought my little brother could bring life to.”

Entering his senior season – which has been pushed back to the spring – Brickhandler is ready to do whatever it takes for a Pittsburg football program steeped in success and make his family more proud than they already are.

This offseason alone, Brickhandler has done everything to bolster his game on the field. He’s shined at every showcase he’s attended, including the Xclusive Speed Bay Area Top 100 and Best Coast Showcases earlier this month.

All of the results have paid enormous dividends thus far. La Verne, a Division III school, has sent an offer his way. Other Division I programs like Arkansas, Boise State, Washington State and Wyoming have shown interest. And his quarterback coach said he is on the board at every school.

Now he’s ready to show how much he’s grown even more on the football field and off of it – just like the note one of his favorite teachers wrote to him after his first few moments as a Pittsburg Pirate.

“I feel like Pittsburg has opened up so many opportunities and understanding of the growth that I’ve had since my freshman year because I was a little baby my freshman year. I could tell you I was not the most mature freshman at all, but I could just tell you that my growth from my freshman to senior year has been huge.”


  1. Stu, Liz and Zach Snyder on September 18, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    He’s an amazing young man with an amazing support system, his family. They are all so devoted to or another and it’s inspiring to see how he has blossomed. If only all young people could be so kind and humble, our nation would have such an incredible future.
    We are proud friends of the Brickhandler’s. Go Eli!!!!!

  2. Michael Holm on September 19, 2020 at 12:29 am

    Eli is an amazing athlete and an even more amazing young man. I had the pleasure of coaching him at the JV level. It has been great to see the strides he has taken. Not just on the field but as a young man of integrity. I wish I had ten of him to coach every year. I love that kid!

    Coach Holm

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