ABOVE AND BEYOND

Athenians don’t back down in pandemic

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Sports editor Jared McMurry prompted area coaches with the task of nominating athletes who went above and beyond during the pandemic. The following are responses from Crawfordsville fall athletes.

Cross Country

The foursome of Olivia Fichter, Halle Smith, Gabby Warren, and Elyse Widmer knew that while training alone would be difficult during the quarantine days of COVID-19, the alternative would be much worse.

“Something I thought about that kept me going during training solo was that I have to run to get better, and I knew that for myself and my team when we started racing I needed to practice on my own,” Fichter said. “Running is how you become better and I knew that in order to improve I needed to train. Not because I was forced to, but because I knew it is what I needed.”

For Widmer, she found the hard work she put in during the summer, pay off during in-season workouts with her overall work ethic.

“My times weren’t as good as my freshman year,” she said. “but I did feel like it made me work harder throughout the season because of it.”

Warren, just a freshman, had no idea what to expect once the season came along, but believed in what Crawfordsville coach Megan Craig was coaching virtually throughout the summer.

“I definitely feel like my hard work paid off because from the beginning of the season to the last race at regionals I dropped five minutes from my personal best,” Warren said. “Coach told us the reason we work over the summer is so when it comes time for conference, sectionals, and possibly regionals, our legs will be strong and ready to run our best. So since I ran over the summer, my legs were in great shape to run my heart out.”

Smith, one of Crawfordsville’s veteran runners, used her offseason training time to help mentally prepare for her senior season.

“I spent a lot of time preparing myself mentally for the race season,” she said. “Running is obviously a very physical sport, but most runners would argue it is more mental than physical. If you cannot find the drive to dig deep and give it your all when you feel absolutely exhausted, then all of your hard work goes right out the window. Mental preparation is key to being happy with your work in the end.”

Corbin Smith, Football

Throw out the win/loss record. Crawfordsville football improved in 2020, and senior offensive lineman Corbin Smith was a large part of the reason why.

“I thin our hard work paid off and it just didn’t show up in the win column,” he said. “I thought as the season went on we got better and better as our young line got some much needed game time. I was also fortunate enough to have some great teammates next to me on the O-line.”

Smith, who was the Athenians’ center, spent time snapping to his dad in the front yard, and meeting up with quarterback Kaiden Underwood to practice with him. During the quarantine, he would even sneak off to the Crawfordsville practice field and push the one-man sled on his own.

“I didn’t find it hard to stay motivated during the pandemic because it was my senior year and I think every senior tries their best during their final season,” he said.

Landon Hurt, Boys Soccer

Crawfordsville’s Landon Hurt’s hard work and dedication during the summer proved off for the junior once the Athenians returned to pitch this fall.

“I feel like my hard work did pay off,” he said. “My fitness and my touch with the ball improved which helped me to play well at the games. I also earned me some playing time on the varsity team and the position of captain on the junior varsity.”

Hurt said he ran almost everyday during the summer, worked on his ball juggling and passing, and always did the daily workouts given by the coaches.

“I didn’t find it very hard to stay motivated during the pandemic,” he said. “Thanks to my coaches helping by giving my teammates and me workouts to do over the summer it made it a lot easier to know what I needed to do.”

Olivia Reed, Volleyball

Crawfordsville’s Olivia Reed had no shortage of motivation while at home during the pandemic. She knew at any point they could return to the gym. And on top of that, the junior knew what was at stake in her upcoming volleyball season, and eventually returned to the softball diamond this summer with her travel team.

“It wasn’t hard to stay motivated, because you never knew if the next day you would be in the gym,” she said. “But definitely the time away was the hard part. Home workouts weren’t ideal. It was all about pushing yourself and getting better. It was also so important to communicate with the coaches about how you were feeling. We had 3 LONG months off and our bodies weren’t where they would’ve been.”

In the end Reed helped the Athenians to a 15-0 start in volleyball and played for a sectional title, before losing to Benton Central. All the hard work paid off for her and her teammates.

“Hard work most definitely paid off, and I can’t thank our coaches enough for pushing us every day at practice,” she said. “Yes, we had fun but when it was time to work we did. Starting out the season 15-0 and losing to Southmont was definitely not what any of us wanted. I think that loss motivated us in practice, to work harder, and never let that happen again, because it hurt. Come sectional time we were hot and ready to go, we knew the sectional championship was up for grabs and it was going to determine who wanted it more. Benton Central definitely was out to get us, both teams played a great game. I give all the credit to all my teammates we pushed until that last 25th point.

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