Peter McDevitt is the starting quarterback for Marquette University High School’s football team, which is off to a 2-1 start in his senior season. (Submitted photo)

It seems like Peter McDevitt has been a leader his whole life.

When he was younger, the Marquette University High School senior talked his father, Patrick, into having the family pray the Rosary together every day.

“Having a relationship with Mary has been something that has been a big part of my faith life,” said McDevitt, who is the quarterback on the school’s football team and a member of the basketball team.

“He has always been responsible, disciplined and focused,” said his mother, Julie. “Peter enjoys life and it is important to him to always put forth his best effort. He used to ‘say Mass’ in our living room when he was a little boy.”

Those attributes have helped propel him to success as a key member of two highly regarded teams with big expectations for this year and as a leader among the student body, also participating in the school’s Hilltoppers Defending Life club, a Pro-Life group.

It has been noticed by the adults who interact with him on a regular basis.

“I’m super impressed by Peter— his maturity as a young man,” Marquette Athletic Director Robert Herman said. “He is dedicated to his faith in a way that others his age might be reluctant to show or share. He’s a tremendous athlete. He comes from a family of athletes so that’s not surprising. He put in a lot of time and effort in the offseason over the last few years to prepare for this moment, so I’m really excited for him and what he might accomplish this year. The kids see him as a leader, not necessarily by the things he says, but by his actions and his quiet demeanor, and people want to follow him, because of his personality.”

McDevitt said the moment where he started to make his faith his own was when he was preparing for his First Communion. He credited the formation, along with the sacraments, as helping him make that realization.

“Being an athlete has almost increased my faith in a way,” McDevitt said. “It starts sacramentally. I really enjoy going to Mass and confession; I do that before every game on Friday. Starting there, just having those graces before I go into a game is something I’ve always looked to do. With prayer, it helps you center and get right mentally and spiritually. The mental part of sports is huge. Just being able to be calm and present in the moment is something prayer has helped me to do.”

The foundation was laid early for him to make that decision.

“It started with my family,” McDevitt said. “Both of my parents have a very strong faith. (First Communion is) when I started to take it more seriously, and I would start to pray on my own more often. I started my own prayer life.”

McDevitt spent his early years in Bay View attending Immaculate Conception before moving to Elm Grove prior to his sixth grade school year and joining St. Mary’s Visitation Parish.

As a “legacy” at MUHS — his father, both brothers and several uncles attended the school — McDevitt always knew where he was going to attend high school.

“I didn’t really have a say but at the same time, I really did want to go here, and I played sports through the Jr. Hilltopper program, so I knew some guys that were coming here,” he said. “I felt like it was the right fit for me.”

As a member of Hilltoppers Defending Life, McDevitt was able to go to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., two years ago.

“That was a really cool experience,” McDevitt said. “Seeing that many young people together supporting such a good cause, the Pro-Life cause, it was really cool. It was definitely like a piece in a bigger scheme. Just seeing so many young people together supporting the same things, having Catholic values, was really cool. Going to Mass for Life was beautiful.”

At a rigorous school like MUHS, playing sports and maintaining a strong faith life requires as a lot of a focus for a young man.

“I’ve always played a lot of sports,” McDevitt said. “That forces you to have discipline, because get home after practice and you’ve got to eat, do your homework and get to bed. Time management has been something I’ve worked on because you need to when you have all of these activities going on. From a young age, I had to build that up, and going to Marquette, where it is difficult, you really have to be on top of your classwork, but also get it done on the field.”

McDevitt, whose two older brothers attend Auburn University in Alabama, is still trying to decide what he will do for college next year, and for a career.

For now, he is focused on the moment, leading his teammates into battle on Friday nights for as long as the run lasts.

“Having guys on the team that have strong faith, there’s a different type of bond you can form when you share that in common,” McDevitt said. “Wisdom and advice to be a good leader, that’s something I pray for, and how to handle adversity. Being able to turn to God in prayer can give you the wisdom you need to be a leader in difficult situations.”

With a football team that is expected to be at or near the top of the Greater Metro Conference and a basketball team that returns the bulk of a group that lost in the sectionals last year, the excitement is high at Marquette as the school year begins.

“There’s a lot of opportunity,” McDevitt said. “We have a lot of lofty goals. It’s exciting, too, because these are guys I’ve been playing with my whole life through junior programs. We get one last shot at it. It’s exciting.”

Peter McDevitt