The Journal & Courier sports department is proud to present the 15 th annual Student-Athlete of the Year awards.
Harrison’s Tanner Watkins and Seeger’s Becca Haussin were chosen by members of the sports department from a list of candidates from the 27 high schools in the Lafayette area.
The selections were based on a student-athlete’s athletic and academic accomplishments, along with community activities. The winners were asked to write about what high school athletics meant to them.
Watkins played football, basketball and baseball at Harrison, helping the Raiders post their first winning seasons in those sports in several years as a senior. He graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average and will attend Purdue University to study accounting and/or business management.
Life is like a deck of cards: You never know what you are going to get.
High school athletics involves that same principle of having no control over what kind of team you will be placed on or what kind of difficulties you’ll face that season.
As an athlete, I know that not everything is going to go my way. I also know that everyone has bad days when nothing goes right or a personal challenge to face. However, no matter what the obstacle is, athletes must find a way to overcome it and learn a lesson in the process. High school sports taught me many things, but learning how to deal with adversity is the value that will continue to serve me in my life.
Heading into summer 2013, I was concerned with my transition from sophomore to junior year. I knew that as a junior I would have to step it up and carry more team responsibilities.
Thankfully, I quickly became a leader as an upperclassman on each of my teams. I had significant varsity football and baseball experience, and I was considered an impactful leader on the basketball team. My coaches and teammates had high expectations — as did I. There was no way of knowing what kinds of drawbacks were approaching.
I overloaded that summer schedule in an effort to prepare myself for the upcoming year. I participated in football, basketball and baseball summer workouts, along with competing in travel baseball and the Colt World Series. I quickly wore myself out, and it took a toll on my body. At the end of the summer, I found out that I had torn the labrum in both of my hip joints. I was required to attend intense physical therapy and eventually undergo two major surgeries. Luckily, I was able to finish out the football season, but I was incapable of playing basketball or baseball due to my surgeries and the six months of rehabilitation that followed.
Most people, if not all, would claim that an injury like this is the worst thing that could happen to a high school athlete. However, I am not most people.
Being injured was great for me. It gave me an opportunity to lead from the bench, which allowed me to become a better verbal leader. My abnormal position presented me the view from a coach’s standpoint rather than a player’s. Yes, it was difficult because I was usually the one playing, but it allowed me an opportunity to learn, and I am forever grateful for that.
Sitting on the bench junior year taught me that, even without me, the show must go on. I was forced to watch younger guys take my spot on the field or court. It was heartbreaking because I knew that they would most likely keep the position even when I was healthy again.
However, it taught me to be selfless, and it revealed to me that I can always fulfill a role, whether I am on the field/court or not. I could still contribute to my team. It was a difficult lesson to learn, but it has and will continue to benefit me tremendously.
Going into my senior year, I looked at everything differently than other athletes. I knew that I wasn’t the most talented on any of my teams and that my skills and athleticism were limited. I had to recognize these things and use them to my advantage by fulfilling a different role than I was accustomed to in order to help my team be successful.
A lot of high school athletes are not yet mature enough to realize that. They are too worried about themselves and their playing time. That could have easily been me, but my surgeries opened my eyes to what was important.
My only concern was winning for my team. Whether it was not playing at all or playing the entire game, I would do it to help my team succeed.
I guess what I want everyone to know is that no matter what, it is about the team. It’s not about you, it’s not about the coach, it’s about the team. That’s why I am a successful athlete. Because I know my role, and I am willing to do whatever it takes in order for the team to succeed. It’s about us, not me.
2001 — Attica’s Josh Smith and Twin Lakes’ Jessica Bragg
2002 — Benton Central’s Blake Schoen and West Lafayette’s Jessica Gall
2003 — McCutcheon’s Clayton Richard and Lafayette Jeff’s Liz Honegger
2004 — Twin Lakes’ Clif Cobb and Harrison’s Alison Steele
2005 — Central Catholic’s Thomas Haan and Lafayette Jeff’s Lanae Stovall
2006 — Lafayette Jeff’s Greg Tao and West Lafayette’s Olivia Ghiselli
2007 — North Montgomery’s Jake German and West Lafayette’s Monika Freiser
2008 — South Newton’s Ben Welsh and Attica’s Mary Mattern
2009 — West Lafayette’s Matt Lancaster and Benton Central’s Skyler Gick
2010 — West Lafayette’s Daniel Wodicka and Harrison’s Natalie Newton
2011 — West Lafayette’s Kyle Patton and North Montgomery’s Kelly Kyle
2012 — South Newton’s Luke Welsh and Harrison’s Taylor VanArsdel
2013 — Crawfordsville’s Jake Zurawski and Lafayette Jeff’s Erin West
2014 — Delphi’s Kolby Myer and West Lafayette’s Shelby Mann
2015 — Harrison’s Tanner Watkins and Seeger’s Becca Haussin