Justice Vactor is having an AMAZING senior year at State College Area High School. As a defensive end on the football team, he battled with the team to reach Pennsylvania’s 6A state semi-final game. The team honored him with its “Most Improved Senior” award, despite having his position switched and not being a starter for most of the season.
He was awarded an athletic scholarship to Juniata College, and he was selected a “Pennsylvania High School Football: Top Defensive Ends in 2022” by the PA Preps athletic rating service – a major honor. He was voted to take part in the upcoming Lezzer Lumber Classic. He led the team in sacks despite getting less playing time. And he achieved the honor roll!
But Justice knows that the road to today’s accolades ran through serious hard times. His testimony, as his parents will tell you, is one of hard work and strong faith. “We are so proud of you,” Mandy Vactor wrote to her son recently. “Another chapter is coming to a close; however, it’s not the end of your story – you’re just getting started. You have faced so much hate and adversity on and off the field over the years, yet you persevered.”
“Adults tried to stand in your way and hold you down,” she said. “You are a true example of a Leader, Anointed by God. No one can stand in the way of HIS plan for your life. Psalm 105:15.”
Justice’s story includes numerous incidents of racial conflict within the school district as far back as elementary school. His challenges culminated with the football team, where dad David Vactor says he was frequently discouraged, held back and coached “down,” not “up”.
“SCASD Football has a culture of nepotism and predetermined positioning for players that begins at youth football,” said David Vactor. “Justice was told that he would never see the field as a linebacker before the season ever started. He was only told what he did wrong and was quickly pulled out of the game whether he made a good play or made a mistake. That type of coaching creates anxiety and a playing-scared mentality.”
“To be told that you will never play, be ignored and passed over and verbally or physically assaulted by multiple teachers and students would be enough to make the strongest person give up,” Mandy said. “This young man has never given up and just keeps going and Father has made him stand out where man tried to bury him. Father has sent helpers both in the classroom and on the field and Justice has accepted their help and grown immensely.”
“I succeeded through God: His work, drive and push from the people I surround myself with,” Justice said. “It was my Mom and Dad, my learning support teachers and friends.”
“Justice is our hero – he’s taken the very best from us and applied it in his life,” said Mandy Vactor. “Through all of the trauma he has experienced at the hands of teacher and coaches in the SCASD, he’s not an angry person. He is forgiving, looks for the best in people and has unwavering hope. When your child can teach you through their behavior, it is the best affirmation of your parenting you can receive.”
“Justice truly values the extended family that he has from UCJC,” said David. “He has relationships and contact with members and elders outside of Sunday -- Elder Duane texting or calls just to say hello, for instance. UCJC remains a source of strength for our family that started before Justice was even born. He has created his own relationships with his church family.”