South Charlotte

Athlete of the week: This 'early bird' is flying off to bright future

Bryon Fields wakes up a little before 6 a.m. every morning to get ready for school.

After a 30-minute commute from his home in northwest Charlotte with his mother, Fields and 17 other Providence Day students begin their day an hour before the school starts.

For the last two years, Fields has been a part of the "Early Bird class," which students can voluntarily take for credit five days a week in the hour leading up to the regular school day that begins at 8 a.m. The class, led by Providence Day football coach Bruce Hardin, involves a daily workout with everything from flexibility training to weight lifting to running.

"It's not always easy to wake up that early," Fields said. "But once you get through the workout, you feel so much better. In season, it helps me stay in shape. In the offseason, I work on getting ready for the next season."

Fields, who is starting wide receiver and safety on the Charger football team and the starting point guard on the basketball team (13 points, four assists per game in 2010), rarely has an offseason.

Fields has been a factor on Providence Day varsity football team since his freshman year when he was starting cornerback.

"Bryon was a great athlete (as a freshman) and we were really short in the secondary at the time," Hardin said. "He really stepped in and stepped up from the start. He has grown into an even better player for us in the last two seasons."

Fields, who stands 5-foot-11, weighing 170 pounds, has 17 catches for 447 yards (averaging 26 yards per reception) and four touchdowns for the offense, while also grabbing three interceptions for the defense.

Fields has played his best when his team needed him the most, including a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown, eight tackles and an interception in a narrow 10-7 loss to No. 5 Observer Sweet 16 Porter Ridge. Most recently, Fields also had six catches for 158 yards in 27-17 home win over Charlotte Latin.

Fields said he understands that his team needs him to make big plays and he prepares himself to try and do it every game.

"Before every game, I visualize a big catch or an interception or a big return," said Fields, who runs a 4.5-second, 40-yard dash.

Hardin said while Fields is play-maker, he is just as good at doing the little things like make a block for his running backs or fellow receivers or being a decoy, going full-speed on nearly every pass attempt that doesn't come his way.

Fields, who also has a 4.1 grade-point average, said Duke and Wofford have shown interest in him as a football player, and Navy and Presbyterian have also shown interest as a basketball player.

Fields hopes Providence Day can come up big in the final two weeks of the season, with short road trips to rivals Charlotte Country Day and Charlotte Country Day in the next two weeks.

After going 3-8 in his freshman year, the Chargers won a share of the CISAA conference title last year with Latin and Country Day. They hope to have a chance to have it all to themselves this year.

"We were all tired of getting beat up by Latin, Country Day and Christian," Fields said. "We made a big move in our conference last year. We want to win it because we know if can beat those teams, we can do even bigger things like winning states."