Basehor’s best share many traits
Talent will only take you so far and hard work will carry you the rest of the way.
Thankfully for this year's Basehor-Linwood High School Athletes of the Year Alex Jeannin and Ryan Heffley, they both had plenty of both.
Jeannin, who played basketball, volleyball and track for the Bobcats, and Heffley, who played football, wrestled and ran track, both put in the extra work in the off-season needed to have success during the season.
Head track coach Leroy Scharnhorst, who coached both Jeannin and Heffley during the spring said those attributes are what makes a leader.
"(Working hard) is what makes you a leader," he said. "That is what makes anyone a leader. Leaders are those that are willing to work hard, take instruction and listen to instruction. Those that are able to learn from those lessons are the ones that go on to be leaders."
For Jeannin, that hard work came on the hard wood. A varsity player since her freshman year, Jeannin was named to the preseason second team All-Kaw Valley League team her senior year before struggling with injuries the rest of the season. Her love of basketball is something that has been a constant in her life, she said.
"I've always loved to play," she said. "It's my best sport, so that helps too. I've played since second grade and it's always been fun for me. You're always moving and there are always different things going on."
The season didn't end in March for Jeannin. She played year-round for a travelling team, the Kansas Swoosh, that played in tournaments around the Midwest and featured top players from all over eastern Kansas. Practices began in the spring, she said, and the team would play games every weekend.
In addition to the travelling, Jeannin attended many camps, one of which, the Washburn University Camp, would lead to her becoming the student assistant for the women's team when she enrolls there this fall.
Looking back on her career at Basehor, she said a game from four years ago was the one that stood out the most in her mind.
"My favorite moment was probably when during my freshman year we beat Santa Fe Trail for the first time in several years," she said. "It didn't mean as much to me as it did for the upperclassmen because I didn't know what it meant. But we didn't beat them again during my career, so I kind of understand now. The biggest thing for me was the looks of joy on everybody's faces after we put the game away.
"I love the game but I love it more when we do things as a team."
Ryan Heffley won't be saying goodbye to his favorite sport when he goes to Coffeyville Community College in the fall. He is signed to play football for the Ravens when he goes. But saying goodbye to playing high school sports was something that was difficult.
"During football I never really had that problem, because I knew that it was my last year on the team and I wanted to enjoy it as much as possible. Even though our team was struggling, I always had fun when I was on the field."
Heffley, who wants to take classes in multimedia designs and slide-show design at Coffeyville, said he tried to live in the moment as much as possible during his final year as a Bobcat.
"I didn't look ahead too much because I have the rest of my life for that," he said. "I just really wanted to have a good time this year on the field and soak it up as much as possible. At the end of the year, I was ready for it to end, but I didn't want it to. Just mixed emotions I guess."
Heffley's success on the gridiron stretched to the wrestling mat as well. He was 28-8 in the 275 pounds. weight class his senior year and made it to the 4A state tournament before falling in the first round.
But Heffley's first love will always be the football field. He was named to the All-KVL second team as a lineman his senior year. Defeating Bonner Springs in football his senior year, his favorite memory from high school athletics, also occurred on the field.
"We'd never beat them before and we've been playing them since we were in sixth grade," he said. "It really felt great to finally beat them."
But those memories and the success for both of these athletes would never have been possible without the time spent off the court and off the field. Jeannin said she knows why some athletes succeed where others do not.
"Always work as hard as you can during practice," she said. "I learned that during my senior year. We didn't put as much effort into practice as we could have during the year and it showed. When everybody works hard together, it makes it easier to work hard."