Versatility has served Vic Faust well in a life that continues to open awe-inspiring chapters at nearly every stop.
Faust grew up in St. Louis and moved to Caseyville before his freshman year at Althoff High School in 1987, going from not knowing anyone to becoming one of the most popular students at the school.
He helped the Crusaders win back-to-back state football championships, played five different positions at Missouri, then decided sportscasting might be the way to go.
After being successful at that, he shifted from radio to television and through hard work again climbed his way up yet another ladder.
One of the top sports anchors in the Detroit television market, Faust wasn't ready to sit still. He moved into the news anchor seat and now sits where he's seemingly always been -- right on top.
"It started with my family, my uncles and my aunts and all those people within the family," Faust said when asked to describe his work ethic. "God gave me some gifts. But I wasn't gifted enough to just show up and have everything work out, so I always wanted to outwork everybody I could.
"Nothing about my life has ever been conventional."
The former metro-east football standout, now 39, is a news anchor and reporter for WXYZ Channel 7, the ABC affiliate in Detroit. He and co-anchor JoAnne Purtan preside over the top-rated "Action News" noon newscasts, and their morning news show ranks second in the market.
"If you do a good job and you work hard and try to take care of the community, people embrace you," said Faust, who is performs charity work and coaches his own children's youth sports teams. "I don't try to hide who I am or where I come from. I'm a St. Louis guy, and growing up as a kid I was an Illinois fan, then I became a Missouri fan when I went there."
Recruited as a tight end, Faust also wound up playing defensive end, outside linebacker, fullback and special teams at Mizzou.
"I really put it in God's hands," Faust said. "I've always said I'll show up every day and give it everything I've got and let the chips fall where they may."
If Faust's chip stack seems to be a little larger than most, credit his hard work, outgoing personality and ability to connect with people quickly.
Especially -- according to friends, his wife, Jennifer, and co-anchor Purtan -- women.
"When we were both at Missouri, girls would come up to me and ask me if I knew Vic Faust," said former Althoff High teammate and friend Keith Padgett, now a teacher at Belleville East. "They loved him. He started dating his wife in college and that was it. It was over."
Jennifer, a St. Louis native, met Faust on a blind date when both were students at Missouri.
"When they said his name was Vic, I thought it was going to be some big cheesy Italian guy," she said. "He's still cheesy, but not Italian. For as young as we were, it was pretty quick, pretty instant, I guess.
"He's very engaging and has a good ability to make you feel like you're the only person around when he's talking to you," Jennifer said.
Faust's father, Vic Faust Sr., was a star football player at Assumption High School in East St. Louis and played for Arkansas State. Faust's parents divorced when he was young and he grew up living with his mother near St. Charles, Mo.
Ironically, one of Faust's first memories of his childhood was watching Althoff's state football championship parade in 1980 from his grandparents' yard along West Main Street in Belleville.
His grandparents are Robert and Dorothy Shay, and his grandfather is a former St. Clair County deputy coroner.
"I remember the parade going down the road and I always dreamed of winning a state championship -- and, lo and behold, I got two of them," said Faust. Althoff won the title in 1989 and 1990, when Faust was a junior and senior.
After his eighth-grade year, Faust and his father moved to Caseyville, where his grandparents lived. He enrolled at Althoff and hoped for the best.
"I didn't know anybody, I was scared. You're a kid, you're 14 years old and you don't know anybody and it's a new school," Faust said. "I was a little apprehensive at first but I've never been afraid to make friends. The only thing I really knew about the school was hearing family talking about it growing up and I remember that football parade."
Faust wanted to fit in quickly at Althoff, and found football to be an instant bonding process.
"You could tell that those guys were great football players, then Vic shows up seemingly out of nowhere just as big and stronger and faster than all the other guys on the team," said Padgett, a freshman football teammate. "He was just an outgoing guy, always introducing himself."
Faust and his teammates got to ride in two state football championship parades. Althoff was 26-1 his junior and senior year and those teams featured at least seven Division I football players, a future major-league baseball player (DaRond Stovall) and a Division III All-American and National Defensive Player of the Year (Matt Gomric).
Not bad for a Class 3A school of 650 students.
"Vic came in and fit really very well in that class," former Althoff football coach Glenn Schott said. "One of the things people forgot about was we had a number of very intelligent people playing football that year."
Schott is not surprised to see Faust succeed in television.
"Let's put it this way, he wasn't bashful," Schott said. "His success in the broadcasting and television field does not surprise me at all. He loved to talk and he had a great smile."
Faust (Missouri), Luther Hardin (Nebraska), Armandos Fisher (Tennessee), Rich Sauget (baseball and football at Notre Dame), Hickey Thompson (Michigan State, Illinois State) and Jim Stiebel (Nebraska, Kansas) all went on to play Division I football.
Stiebel said Faust's fun-loving personality hid an intense competitive drive on the field.
"You would never suspect it," Stiebel said. "He knew how important it was from an early age, from his father being an outstanding athlete and himself, too. He comes off as the nicest guy in the world, but on the field it was all business."
"We had so many good players, it was a joy to play football," Faust said. "I thank all those guys for giving me the opportunity to have (recruiters) from all over the country come see me play.
"It was impossible for other teams to do anything with us offensively or defensively because there were so many athletes. Those guys before us were really good and there was always the passing on of the torch. You did not want to let them down."
Despite being surrounded by so many star players, and as a tight end in a primarily run-based offense, Faust never felt he was overlooked.
He had a crucial touchdown catch and a fumble recovery in the 1990 state championship game against (Rock Island) Alleman.
"I had a blast and I was grateful to be part of that because there is nothing like playing on a team with the amount of talent we had," Faust said. "It was knowing you were going to go on the football field and you were going to win."
While he enjoyed his time at Missouri, injuries and other circumstances kept Faust from becoming the type of star-level player he had been in high school.
He started games on both sides of the ball and played on special teams while eventually bulking up to 242 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame.
Redshirted as a freshman, Faust had a hernia injury before his sophomore season. He broke his right pinkie finger just before his junior season and a week before his final Mizzou season he fractured three bones in his lower back.
"There were just things that I had to fight through," Faust said. "I was an emotional leader and I was a big part of our offense my senior year. We didn't throw a lot, so we were blockers under Larry Smith as tight ends and we didn't show up in the stats a lot.
"I had some nagging injuries that were very difficult, that I think held me back from becoming the player I ultimately wanted to become."
"I knew that I probably wasn't going to be playing in the NFL and I didn't have a desire to because I was sick of being hurt all the time," said Faust, although he did leave a bit of a legacy at Mizzou that was carried on by former Tigers star Brock Olivo.
"I began a tradition of running off the practice field every day," Faust said. "Brock Olivo continued it after I left and that was something I always appreciated because as hard as I worked, Brock came in and set a new standard."
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.