Editor’s note: Since being part of a high school sports team isn’t just about competing in scheduled events, the Daily Herald is going behind the scenes and telling a little bit of the stories of our 2020 spring athletic squads here in Utah Valley. To do that, we are having team captains describe their teams, talk about favorite experiences and relate lessons learned.
One of the best things high school athletes can do is leave a legacy for those who are part of their program in the future.
The Salem Hills baseball team wasn’t able to do that by making big plays on the diamond this year because efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of the season.
But the Skyhawk seniors found another way to leave something for future Salem Hills baseball players.
“We came together as a team,” Skyhawk senior captain Chuck Steele said earlier in spring. “We’d never had a clubhouse up until this year. We texted our coach one day and said we wanted to turn our tower into a clubhouse and he said OK. As a team, we painted the clubhouse in the preseason. It was fun and brought us together as a team. That’s something I’m never going to forget.”
Salem Hills senior Kyle Coburn said that time working together was important to help the squad come together.
“We all pitched in and put things in there of our own so we could have it for ourselves,” Coburn said. “We spent a lot of time in there and got to hang out with everyone. It was really good to have a place to go hang out with the team.”
The seniors all feel like they can be proud of having worked on something for future teams to enjoy, according to Skyhawk senior captain Chase Higginson.
“Growing up I was always taught to leave things better than you found them,” Higginson said. “We decided to build the clubhouse to have that hangout spot. It’s great to leave the program better than we found it.”
When the Salem Hills players were putting in that work, they thought it was going to be one more way they could lay the foundation for a big year.
“The biggest thing for me was the way we gelled together,” Coburn said. “It came really easy this year. A team can’t be successful unless it gels together and so that’s something I think first about this team. We are good friends.”
There had been a level of expectations building as this group of athletes moved up.
“This was the year we had been waiting for our whole lives,” Steele said. “We are a pretty scrappy team that likes to win. We were excited for this year and had been working hard, so it sucked to see it go like it did.”
Salem Hills head coach Scott Haney credited the senior captains for playing key roles for the program.
Haney described Steele as a tough, competitive, vocal leader, while he said Higginson is more quiet but is a hard worker who is well-liked on the team. He said Coburn is one of the players who always wants to win and expects the best out of himself and the team.
While they didn’t get a chance to compete as much as they would’ve liked, the three captains said they feel like the circumstances and baseball in general have taught them some important lessons.
“There is a lot of failure in baseball,” Steele said. “You are going to fail a lot more times than you are going to succeed and do well. You have to have a short-term memory and come back the next day to play again. After an error you have to pick your head up and be ready for the next play. You can apply that to everything in life. There are going to be bad days and good days, so it’s what you do with your next opportunity.”
Higginson said that being a captain pushed him out of his comfort zone.
“One thing I’ve learned is the importance of leadership and patience,” Higginson said. “I’ve learned that sometimes I need to speak up and be more vocal. Through baseball I’ve learned how to deal with failure, to be ready for the next thing.”
They learned about how life can be tough and that you have to enjoy the good things you have.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is not taking anything for granted,” Coburn said. “You have to soak up everything while you have it. I’ve had the chance to play varsity baseball for the last three year and this was the year I looked forward to. Things don’t always go your way, however, and life is going to hit you hard sometimes — but good things will come out of it.”