In the time that I spent as the Sports Editor at the Times Herald, I saw several youngsters who would later wear NBA jerseys, win national championships, be on the cover of sports magazines, be invited to NFL camps and were drafted by Major League baseball teams - along with numerous players who earn athletic scholarships and excelled at the collegiate level.
But that was not the best part of that job.
The best part was living in a smaller community, where you not only watched these kid grow up right in front of your eyes, you also got an appreciation for the hard work they put in, not just across a season or two, but across their whole athletic lives.
Over the last week, we had two senior athletes score their 1,000th career points in basketball. Washington’s Ally Hunsinger reached that mark on Thursday and Barr-Reeve’s Jenna Knepp on Saturday.
This a very nice accomplishment for any athlete or community, however, I believe around here it means just a little more.
I have seen both of these girls play since they were in elementary school. I think the first time I watched Ally play was during Sunday night basketball drills at Washington Catholic in about first grade. If you wonder where 1,000-point scorers begin, it starts with a basketball that never stopped dribbling, wristbands and a hard-nosed attitude at about seven-years old. I also recall watching her play on a boys’ AAU team in fifth grade, where she was able to intimidate just about every boy she came across.
I don’t think I saw Jenna play until fifth or sixth grade, where she was described as one of the best female players they had seen at that age. I then remember someone else nudging me in the ribs saying, “She is not a girl, she’s a KNEPP.”