Jared McDaniel entered the gym with a baseball uniform filled with mud after a weeknight road doubleheader that had been delayed by rain.
His night wasn’t quite complete and a workout in the gym followed what had already been a long evening.
That was one of the moments that stood out to Eaton Rapids boys basketball coach Luke Brown the most.
And moments like those that helped the recent Eaton Rapids graduate make significant impacts in multiple sports while leading them to success.
McDaniel ended his career by being a leader on football, basketball and baseball teams that won district titles this school year and is the LSJ male prep athlete of the year.
“It’s not just talent, it’s the ability to bring yourself to come back into the gym when you’re tired, or take snaps and throw some routes when you’re exhausted,” Brown said. “That’s the example that he sets and that the senior class really embodied.”
For McDaniel, who will play basketball at Concordia Ann Arbor, being told he wasn’t good enough served as motivation to be the best.
“Everybody told me that I wouldn’t be able to make it, that I wouldn’t be successful,” said McDaniel, who wound up setting school records in football for career and season passing yards and in basketball for season and career steals, career assists and career made 3-pointers.
“I tried to keep that in my mind and let that motivate me in everything that I did. It just made me work harder than I had. Guys from my class would always be there with me and they’d be pushing hard and we kept each other motivated and we kept that in the back of our heads that we wanted to be there some day and have winning seasons and turn Eaton Rapids around.”
McDaniel and his peers achieved as they hoped. Brown views McDaniel as one of the main reasons the Greyhounds have flourished in the major sports. In football, he quarterbacked Eaton Rapids to a combined 15 wins and back-to-back playoff appearances as a junior and senior.
The Greyhounds had won a combined five games the previous five seasons before their success in 2013 and 2014.
McDaniel was a key cog on a baseball team that spent a majority of this spring ranked in the top five in Division 2 and earned all-state recognition.
He was also a Class B honorable mention all-state pick in basketball after helping the Greyhounds break through this season and capture a district crown.
Those accomplishments have been a part of a strong legacy McDaniel and his peers have left at Eaton Rapids. And it’s one he hopes will continue.
“I’ve had plenty of people come up to me and some of the boys that I played with throughout my whole career and just tell us we’re probably one of the best athlete classes to come through,” McDaniel said. “I hope that stays for a long time.
“I hope (the younger kids) see that this can be done too and they always have that motivation in the back of their head to be the best.”
The same drive he displayed at Eaton Rapids is fueling McDaniel as he aims to make a mark on the Concordia basketball program. Brown is excited to see what McDaniel can accomplish with his attention and time fully devoted to basketball.
“We’re really going to see a lot of growth with him being able to focus on one thing,” Brown said. You don’t want kids to do that in high school. Multi-sport athletes are really what you need in most small towns like ours around here.
“Now that he gets to focus on (basketball) he’s going to become one heck of a player and he’s got a chance to play significant minutes as a freshman based on his level and where he’s at.”