Not Everyone Starts
Brotherhood, Memories Make Charger Athletes Equal
January 16, 2018
Jack Miguel, Drue Tranquill, Arius Jones, Jacob Redding, Nick Ramsey, Trevor Thornson. All star athletes that at one point or another walked the halls of Carroll High School.
All of which were have gained popularity around school, and in some cases the nation, in part due to their above average skill level in their sport of choice that they displayed during their time in the Carroll uniform. Almost every current Carroll student has heard their names at one point or another. But this isn’t the case for all Carroll athletes.
The athletes that people don’t know. The ones that aren’t stars on their team,and likely won’t go on to play their sport at the collegiate level. The athletes who won’t be synonymous with Carroll sports during their time at the school.
You could call these athletes, Carroll’s Rudy.
These are the athletes that have a passion for their sport and while they may not be great at it, and sometimes they don’t even touch the playing surface during a game, they keep going either way because of that passion that drives all athletes and the attitude of playing for your brothers, your teammates, and for school pride.
Whether they play or not, they are still athletes, Chargers, at heart, and here are their stories:
Payton Wallace- Senior- Football
Payton’s football career got started when he played flag football at the local YMCA at around the age of 7.
“I’ve just played every year since,” said Payton.
Starting at the wide receiver position, Payton transitioned to cornerback once he got to middle school. At the middle school level, Payton’s team, the Maple Creek Bobcats, saw success, going undefeated in both his 7th and 8th grade seasons, and winning the conference title both seasons.
However, Payton’s middle school career wasn’t glorious the whole way through. During his time on Maple Creek, Payton frequently got small knicks and bruises because he has always been “the smaller guy.”
Luckily, Payton was able to avoid any serious injury despite taking a few hits to the head. “I wasn’t really concussed or anything, like I’ve gotten a few hits to the head but nothing like too serious to where I’ve been out for the whole season,” said Payton.
Going into high school, Payton decided to move back to his original position of wide receiver and play offense full time. Now at the high school level, Payton said he still felt intimidated at first but, despite seeing limited playing time, he’s learned to handle it.
Payton said his favorite moment of all came this season when the Chargers beat Bishop Dwenger on Dwenger’s homecoming night with a dramatic last-second goal line tackle.
“Just the Neon Nation storming the field and Jack Tranquill getting that huge hit at the end of the game and we were just like… went crazy,” said Payton.
While Payton doesn’t have any plans of playing football in college he says that because of the coaching staff he is now a better man and he’s learned multiple life lessons during his time on the football team.
“It was definitely my most memorable experiences from high school, being with my brothers.”
Chris Pollock- Junior- Hockey
Chris first got into hockey because his dad, Kirk, was a long time hockey fan and he got Chris into the sport at about the age of 10. From there Chris took part in some clinics put on at the local rink before joining the Youth Hockey League (YHL) playing the forward position.
Chris continued playing in local ‘house’ leagues, leagues made up of just local players, for his first four years of hockey before transitioning to the Carroll hockey team during his sophomore year.
During those four years, Chris was on two championship teams, and he says that those years were the best of his hockey career to this point.
“I think I was in my prime then, I think I was really (in) the best part of my hockey career,” said Chris.
While Chris, may not have been a huge contributor on those championship teams, playing on the third line most of the time, those years delivered lasting memories that Chris won’t soon forget.
Moving into his high school career, Chris says the competition is a bit more intimidating due to the larger size of some of the opponents, but he believes the challenge is only making the Chargers better.
With the Chargers season recently reaching the midway point, Chris is keeping up on getting better by continuing to work hard in practice and working to improve and earn more ice time with the team, as he currently is getting 3-5 shifts per game. Chris also says that he watches videos of two-time Stanley Cup Champion, and forward for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, Phil Kessel to help improve on his game.
And last season that work seemed to have paid off and resulted in Chris’s favorite hockey memory, winning the City Championship last season and defeating Leo 13-2 in the process. Chris said that was his favorite memory, in part, due to being the first to touch the championship trophy, a coveted honor among hockey players.
While Chris also doesn’t plan on playing hockey at a higher level in the future, on his journey through hockey, one thing has stuck with him so far.
“Hard work beats talent.”
Luke Relue- Junior- Basketball
Luke got into basketball at an early age, starting out his career playing in an elementary league at Huntertown, his elementary school. He then transitioned to the Carroll Basketball League during his fifth and sixth grade years, during which he would shoot on a hoop with his dad in the driveway to develop his skills.
“My dad always loved basketball and had a hoop out for me in the yard, and always was shooting on that,” said Luke.
From the beginning of his career, Luke has always been one of the bigger kids on the team, meaning that he spent most of his time down low in the paint, grabbing rebounds and being a team player.
Once Luke hit his growth spurt during his seventh and eighth grade seasons, Luke began to expand his skillset to be a better three-point shooter.
During those middle school seasons, Luke faced adversity early, getting little playing time during his seventh grade season, his first of organized basketball with set plays and what not. However, Luke stuck with it and earned more playing time by the end of the season.
Luke’s positive gains during seventh grade led to Luke making the starting lineup as an eighth grader. That Carroll Middle School team went on to place third in their conference.
“We did pretty well that year and came third in the conference” said Luke.
Then in high school, Luke started out playing on the freshman team and originally was getting lots of playing time. However, he again began to see less playing time. Because of this Luke said he had started to lose interest in the game but he refocused and tried to regain his love for the game.
“Freshman year was a tough year,” he said.
However Luke’s fortunes turned around during his sophomore season, now on the JV team. He started playing a lot more once again, which he attributes to having a really good coach. During the season, Luke averaged around five points but made his living, like he always has, grabbing down rebounds and getting assists, and being an all around team player.
Considering all of the fun he had on the JV team, Luke made the decision to return to the team this season where he is now on the Varsity team.
“JV was fun, I loved it, and so it made me come back this year,” Luke said.
As a deep bench player for the Chargers this season, averaging just one point a game through the first four games of the season, Luke is adjusting to the new “meta” of the Varsity game. A metagame which includes set in stone systems in which perfection is necessary. While Luke says that the Varsity game is more challenging, once ‘you get into it’ you start to love it.
During his time in the Carroll basketball program, Luke has experienced many cool things most basketball fans and players wish they could experience. In the offseason, the Chargers traveled to a Purdue basketball practice as well as Michigan State, where he met Head Coach Tom Izzo, to see how basketball runs at the college level.
All in all, Luke says his love for the game has kept him in the game throughout the ups and downs of his career.
“The fact that we practice everyday and we’re motivated everyday,” he said, “And I’m doing something I love, that keeps me into it,”
While these athletes may not be as well known as your Jack Miguels, Nick Ramseys, or Jacob Redddings, these six athletes aren’t, in fact, all that different. All of them started to have a passion for their sport at a young age, likely with some influence from those around them. All six of them have made new memories and friendships through their sport that they will carry with them through the rest of their lives. And all six of them are now better people for the experience of going through Carroll athletic programs.
Whether they will go on to play their sport at the collegiate level has no impact on their value to a program. Like Rudy, these athletes will still be teammates until the end of the season, and will still be brothers until their final days. These athletes still play for each and every one of their brothers regardless of who plays in what situations and for how long. Regardless of how many points they put on the board, or turnovers they force. Regardless of if they are a leader on the team or not. And it is for that reason that all of them are equally as valuable to their teams as any of their teammates. And it is for that reason, that they will always be Chargers.