When results from any sporting event are published, most of the time you only hear about the participant who won or did well in the game, match or race. Unfortunately, we don't hear a lot about the student-athlete that shows up for practice day in and day out. It's one of those type of athletes that I have learned a bunch from during my first year as a member of the Hurricane High School Cross County and Track teams.
John Casey has been running for the Hurricane Redskins since he was a freshman and will soon be graduating. The experience has been a special one for the 18-year-old.
"It was great; cross country and track are amazing sports. I've had incredible teammates, every aspect of being on this team was perfect and I wouldn't change a thing."
Casey will continue his running career, competing for Concord University beginning in the fall.
Casey's last race as a member of the Redskins' Track Team was at the state championships that were held at Laidley Field in Charleston, earlier this month. It was the first time that Casey qualified for the two-day event that features the best in the state and his participation in the 3,200-meter race proved that you never give up trying.
"It was such a good feeling, something that I had worked on my whole high school career. The memory of a bad race in last year's regionals really stuck with me and I just wanted to come out this season, qualify for states and go out with a bang in my senior year."
Casey was one of the 14 runners in the Triple A 3,200-meter event, which started after midnight on the meet's opening night due to a four-hour weather delay.
The Hurricane runner was one of the first runners for Head Coach Eric Cooper, who took over the team when Casey was a freshman. Cooper admits he is going to miss knowing that he can depend on Casey being ready every time the gun sounded.
"He has been a key piece to our team over the past four years," Cooper said. "You can't just replace someone like John. He has been a leader and someone you know was going to lay it on the line for his teammates. You just hope some follow his example."
Casey was a key member of the Redskins Cross Country team, which came in state runner-up his junior and senior seasons, and the track team, which won the state championship in his junior year.
As much as Coach Cooper appreciated having an athlete like Casey on his team, Casey has basically the same feeling about his coach.
"He taught me the importance of having a strong work ethic and set goals for yourself and go after them through hard work. Just never give up on your dreams and stay determined. But most of al,l be a good teammate on and off the course or track." As a member of the Concord team, Casey will be joining former Hurricane teammate Cole Jackson, who just finished up his freshman year at the southern West Virginia university.
I have written a lot about the brotherhood side of running and the bond that is created between runners. Casey made it clear to me, it was the fondness for his teammates that kept him going.
"Before I started running with these guys, I was very dedicated, I would run just to have something to do. That all changed after I got to high school, met these guys and quickly realized that if we banded together the sky was the limit for us."
There you have it, a lesson in, if you stick with it, whatever it might be, good things will come. Congrats John Casey, thanks for treating this freshman runner as a part of the gang.
Christian Deiss, of Scott Depot, is a freshman at Hurricane High School.