GLEN DALE - For many student athletes in the Ohio Valley, the daily task of balancing school work with practices and games can be challenging and, at times, seem impossible.
For Tanner Filben, a 17-year-old senior at John Marshall High School in Glen Dale, finding the right balance takes the type of focus and concentration that he uses both on the playing field and in the classroom.
Filben, son of Jill and Matt Filben of Glen Dale, is in the top 1 percent of the incoming senior class at John Marshall. In addition to his strong academic performance, he recently participated in the 2013 Youth Leadership Wheeling class.
At John Marshall, Filben participates in a number of Advanced Placement courses, including an advanced United States history course taught by Susan Jones, who he described as his favorite teacher. He said he enjoys the challenge of AP courses.
"It provides you with a place to express your thoughts and interact with people who can challenge you and help you learn," he said.
He has started for the John Marshall varsity boys' basketball team for two years, serving as a captain during his junior season.
For the past two seasons, he has earned All Ohio Valley honorable mention status for his contributions on the court.
He has also been a steady role player for John Marshall's varsity baseball team, batting .442 this past season as John Marshall made a run at a state championship.
Filben said balancing sports and academics can be challenging at times, especially on game nights when he and his teammates travel as far away as Morgantown to compete. However, he said in both academics and athletics, keeping a strong focus is the key.
"It's pretty hard when we get home late, but when I'm working on something, I put all of my efforts on that one thing and get it done," he said. "I focus on what's ahead of me before I worry about anything else."
Filben said he is still undecided about what college he would like to attend or what major he will pursue. He is also undecided as to if he would play sports in college in the opportunity arises.
"It would be a hard decision, because playing sports in college is like a job, and it could be hard to keep up with school work," he said. "But it is definitely an option.