I’m honored to share the absolute sublime experience in which the past four years of my life have been. I could not be more grateful for the blessings I encountered through sports, clubs, staff, friends, and the genuine culture of our community. I remember when I made the decision to move to Hinckley in the summer of 2019, just before my freshman year. Although I didn’t realize it then, I would say it has been the greatest decision of my life. I was a confident freshman, but still I was intimidated by Freshman Academy and I was disinterested in this new life I would have to confront.
To begin, freshman year I had no friends and just stuck to myself at lunch and soccer practice. I began to come into my own, and I have a lot of thanks to Ben Hintzsche, who invited me to his lunch table and became a reliable best friend for me during a low point of my life. To clarify, not everything was perfect off the jump, but the days got brighter. The school is filled with open-minded, kind people; you just have to care to look for them.
I remember first playing soccer and adjusting to the level of high school athletics. Moments like homecoming and regionals were memorable freshman year, and the team was filled with incredible leaders for me to model off of. I played half of my sophomore and junior season, but we didn’t have many monumental moments. My senior year, though, I stepped up as the leader of the team, and I trained extremely hard to be the best I could be. Winning our season opener was awesome as a lot of the community came out. Homecoming is definitely the highlight of every season, though. I had the pleasure of winning Homecoming King and being announced at half time with the whole town cheering. It’s a humbling experience and one I know I’ll never forget.
That being said, nothing could beat basketball season. My freshman year there were only six people on the team and we won only two games, though the season was still a success because both those wins were against Indian Creek. Varsity is a whole different feeling; my junior year I didn’t have a huge impact on the floor, but I was always there to motivate my team, and I did my best at practice to become the best player I could be. The Regional loss my junior year will always sting, but the beauty of the sport is when everyone is in the locker room crying, you realize how grateful you were to spend your lives playing basketball with your friends. Summer ball was awesome and I felt I proved myself into a role for the upcoming season more. I could talk all day about my senior season for basketball, but I’ll keep it relatively short. I love those guys, loved sharing the floor with them and will miss practicing with them. So when I got to hold up that Regional plaque due to the hard work of my teammates and me I felt pure bliss.
Although we didn’t get to Super Sectionals, I could not have asked for more out of my senior season. I credit a lot of my success to Coach Sanderson. He was not only a great coach, but a great man –someone who you want leading you because you have respect for him in every aspect of life. The same could be said for Coach Olsen, but he also is extremely authentic at talking through coaching decisions to give the best perspective possible. That leads me to baseball. Before high school, I had no baseball experience. I am extremely grateful I stuck with it because I’ve made some great memories running out onto our new field and taking in the whole aesthetic of the sport.
Supporting the girls teams are also some of my favorite sports memories, as the environment was always electric. Getting to hang out with your friends while supporting your friends is a great feeling that I feel like anybody who attended games can attest to, especially both the Lady Royals Regional wins.
My other favorite moments of high school are definitely the dances, renaissance events, and just random classroom moments. Homecomings were always so fun, being able to bust a move in nice clothing is a dream. Like I said, the Homecoming game is also incredible as the parade takes place beforehand as well as the taste. The Sadie Hawkins dances were also really fun, the themes were always fun to explore and it’s great that I didn’t have to do all the work for once. Proms were a whole different level, though. The walk, bus ride, the formality, Cantigny, everything was perfect. My junior year was the most fun I’d ever had and somehow this year topped it. Kids all dancing together, laughing, and not to mention the only-vest combination. If every day was prom, I could live satisfied.
Renaissance is a club I’d encourage every school in the nation to have available–a club that encourages high academics but still gets to run skits and rallies that involve intense planning with fun results. That brings me to Mrs. Larsen, an absolute goddess. Larsen cares more for her students than people could imagine, and I’m so grateful for her for every step of the way, in Renaissance and in the classroom. In the classroom these past couple years I have had my fair share of fun, and I feel any teacher would agree that I cared for the material but pushed it to its limit, to say the least. The classroom environment especially in Mr. Magis’s and Mrs. McCauley’s classes were always fun but very educational. Mr. Magis is truly someone I admire, a man who doesn’t stop thinking about his family, and honestly created a new family out of our AP Gov class that I could not have been happier with. I also admire Mrs. McCauley for editing this blog post, especially after a long few weeks of dealing with my antics as a senior in May.
I fell in love with this place. Not because of the location or the building, but the people inside. A week from graduation I feel a lot of emotions. Some excited for the future to come, but most of these emotions are gratefulness for the past four years behind me. I thank anyone and everyone who was on this ride with me, as the experiences I share could have never been done alone.
~ Keegan Fitzpatrick - HBRHS Class of 2023