The other day two little tow-headed boys leaned against the fence, talking excitedly about the play that just happened on the field and how they were going to reenact it on the Little League diamond, anxiously waiting for the day they would be on the inside of that fence.
Five Alta High School student-athletes used to be those boys leaning against the fence and now they are the ones making memories inside of it. Chris Schmitz, Cody Nesbitt and Scott Radke will be seniors this fall at Alta High School, and Austin Stille and Jackson Mills will be juniors. All five are four-sport athletes with an impressive repertoire of accomplishments to their names.
"Back in the day when we played T-ball with everybody, there were no cares. People high-fived you whether you struck out or hit a home run," said Nesbitt. "It's still fun now, just different, like the superstitions. I have to get dressed exactly the same way for every game. I never did that for T-ball."
The five form the core of a talented group of athletes in Alta, competing in football, basketball, track and baseball. The Cyclone football squad posted a 7-3 record en route to a first round playoff loss last November. Radke earned an All-State Second Team selection and was named to the All-District First Team as a defensive end. Schmitz (linebacker) and Nesbitt (running back) also earned All-District First Team honors. Stille (offensive line) garnered honorable mention distinction.
In basketball, the five were members of the team that posted a 22-1 overall record and an undefeated showing in winning the Northwest Conference title with a 14-0 record.
"My family has always been a basketball family so that's probably my favorite sport," said Stille. "I've been playing with these guys ever since I was little; we're a pretty loving bunch."
Mills and Nesbitt added another championship to their list when they helped the 4x200 meter relay cross the wire first at the state track meet. The duo plus Schmitz were also members of the runner-up 4x100 meter relay squad that also succeeded in setting a new school record in the event with a time of 43.95 seconds.
"At times, it can be overwhelming to play four sports but I would never quit any of them," said Mills. "Playing with my friends, winning at state track, being a part of all these great teams, really it's just one big happy moment."
Currently, the five are preparing for district baseball play after wrapping up the regular season with a 24-7 record. All of them are versatile players with Schmitz floating between catcher and second base, Mills picking up some pitching duties and covering center field, Radke playing third and shortstop, Stille pitching and covering short and Nesbitt filling whatever role is necessary whether it be in the outfield or stepping into the lineup as the designated hitter.
"We all get ready for games in our own way," said Schmitz. "Personally, I like to sing along to whatever is playing on Jackson's iPod but a lot of us just hang out and relax."
The Cyclones avenged an early-season loss to Sac City by beating the Indians 6-2 Tuesday night and winning another Northwest Conference title. The squad will start district play next Tuesday at home against the winner of Saturday's Aurelia/St. Mary's matchup.
"Their speed is great to have and they all provide great bats," said head baseball coach Jerry Braunschweig. "They are absolutely wonderful to work with. They're great competitors who want to win and they're super role models as well."
Their positions as role models don't stop on the field. All five were involved in speech with Schmitz, Nesbitt and Mills earning All-State honors this past year and all five have kept up with the academics of high school as well. Schmitz, Nesbitt and Radke are all members of the National Honor Society.
To top it all off, they also work when they can find time. Radke and Stille help farm and Schmitz, Nesbitt and Mills paint during the summer.
"My family has always been really supportive and, actually, working on the farm on game day helps me loosen up and get ready for competition," said Radke.
Their list of accomplishments is indisputable. Yes, these five are definitely on the inside of the fence, making the plays and sharing the glories and the disappointments just as they have since they were little. But they are all so much more than that. That list defines what they do, not who they are.
They are the type of guys who will take time away from their friends to say goodbye to their grandma or joke around but always be ready to buckle down and support you when you need it. They are the type that will offer you the last slice of pizza, stop to talk to a little boy leaning against the fence or step up and pick up the slack.
They are people's sons and brothers. They are students, they are athletes, but most of all, they are friends. At the end of the day, win or lose, these five will be hanging out together and talking about the stuff dreams are made of: sports, girls, the future and Wii.