We asked Steve Schroeder to describe what high school sports meant to him. He said:
Through such a simple act came so much opportunity and growth.
Running competitively in high school gave me the chance to see what I was made of and how much I was willing to sacrifice to be good at something. Every time I finished a workout, crossed the finish line or was interviewed soon afterward, I became wiser; wiser about myself, my limits, my future and my environment.
To put one foot in front of the other countless times has taught me about myself, those around me and the town I live in. The lessons I have learned through competition will aid me for the rest of my life, and I hope they will help any other aspiring athletes of all sports.
The most important thing I learned about myself from high school competition is that I am in control of my own destiny. My mom would always tell me, "If it's meant to be, it's up to me." No one was there to make me run over the summer and winter or push a little harder every day in practice. I had the final decision of how fast I was going to be.
While I learned about myself and what I was capable of, I also learned of what others can be capable of as well. There is no rush quite like seeing a teammate sprint for a personal best or see the look in their eye that they, too, have learned about themselves through competition. You should never underestimate the power of encouragement, trust and friendship in high school sports.
Everyone should be proud of where they are from. Competing all over the state has given me more pride in the town I hail from. I am proud to wear purple and gold wherever I am! Seeing other towns and other schools reminds me of all the wonderful things Monticello has to raise great young adults. My love for my town encourages me to do everything I can to represent Monticello the best I can.
Now that I have graduated high school, I can take these lessons to Annapolis, Md., where greater challenges await me. The lessons I have learned will carry me through the tough times and remember the people and place that helped me achieve my goals.
Finally, for all athletes striving to achieve their goals, a very wise friend once told me: "Always be yourself on your journey to success, unless you can be Batman. Then be Batman."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Schroeder was a two-sport state champion as a senior. He won the Class 1A cross-country title in November. He won the 3,200-meter race in May's Class 1A state track and field meet as well as also anchoring the Sages' triumphant 3,200-meter relay. Teamwise, Monticello placed third at state in both sports. Schroeder has accepted an appointment to the Naval Academy, where he will continue his running career. He has not decided on a major but is considering Russian.
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Adam Crutchley Villa Grove
Terry Deaville Rantoul
Taw Fredrickson Fisher
Blas Garcia-Canga Centennial
J.J. Gardner Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley
Kent Hanson Sullivan
Dennis Hightower Danville
Blake Hoveln St. Joseph-Ogden
Robbie Irvin Hoopeston Area
Kaleb Krigbaum Cerro Gordo
Stephen Krout Bismarck-Henning
Aaron Larson Unity
Cameron Lee Oakwood
Brett Lindenmeyer Arcola
Philip Meyer Tuscola
Caleb Parsons Watseka
Kyle Pool Iroquois West
David Sacre Salt Fork
Lucas Spezia Schlarman
Pierre Tuell St. Thomas More
Korie Vire Georgetown-Ridge Farm
Jerrod Webster Urbana
Jacob Williams Monticello
Malik Williams Judah Christian
Scott Woodard Unity
Bradley Wright Champaign Central
Dakota Zenner Paxton-Buckley-Loda