Jason Graves has taken AP World History and AP U.S. History (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel).

Last year, after football season was over for Inglewood senior Jason Graves, he decided to compete in shot put. His football coaches recommended that he participate in track and field.

“I had never really been a track guy before,” Graves said. “It ended up being something I was decent at, so I stayed with it and it helps me with football.”

Since he started competing in shot put, he noted how he can move faster. He also noticed the qualities needed to compete in football and track and field.

“You have to be explosive in both sports and really just use your legs in both sports,” Graves said. “I just try and stay in the weight room and get my legs strong and it works out for both sports.”

In football, Graves started off as an offensive lineman, playing either left or right tackle. After a while, he was moved to the defensive tackle position. Graves noted that the transition was not difficult.

“It’s like you’re being passive and you go from being passive to being aggressive,” he said. “It’s definitely a switch, but it wasn’t that hard.”

Last track season was the first time Graves competed in shot put. Throughout the season, he gleaned knowledge of the event from more experienced opponents. He called last season “a learning year.”

“I wouldn’t say I had the best season individually, but I feel like I really learned a lot,” Graves said. “I kind of stayed back and watched people that were better than me and just learned from them.”

For Graves, the effort of being a successful student and athlete is intertwined. Putting forth a strong effort in his academics makes him a better athlete and vice versa.

“They keep me going and keep me pushing,” Graves said.

To balance his academics and athletics, Graves tries to get his studies done while at school. He also helps his teammates with their schoolwork.

“Nobody really wants to come from practice and go to homework,” Graves said. “So, I try and get everything done in a day while I have a lot of energy.”

History is his favorite subject; Graves has taken AP United States History and AP World History.

“I feel like I learned the up and coming of the U.S.,” Graves said about taking AP U.S. History. “I didn’t really know too much about the beginning stages on how poorly these people were treated in the beginning of the United States.”

Graves considers his football team as his family. Competing in shot put allowed him to build bonds with students from other schools.

“It was actually really cool meeting these schools because when you play football, you don’t get to really have a fun time with those guys and chill with them … it’s really competitive,” he said. “It was fun just being cool and collected and calm with all these other schools and just getting to meet these guys off the field.”