Benchwarmers persevere, prepare to step up

By Andy Tabor

Watching a sporting event can be educational, exhilarating and even heartbreaking at times.  When you are watching that event from the bench, however, all of those thoughts can race through a person’s mind at any time.

Many different things cross a players mind while confined to the bench.  It is every athlete’s dream to compete and succeed on whichever team they are on whether it is a high school varsity team or just a scrimmage during practice. 

Too much exposure to the pine can drain an athlete’s competitive nature, though, creating a problem for the rest of the team if the frustration is made public.

For junior Carter Kemp the season has been especially frustrating.  Coming into basketball with an injured wrist from football, Kemp has worked extremely hard to make it to the varsity level, where he feels he should have been at the beginning of the season if he was healthy.

“It definitely doesn’t feel that good to just be watching the game from the bench,” Kemp said. “I feel a lot better when I get to play most of the game and have an impact.”

For a 5A basketball team it is paramount that a team has depth and having a player like Kemp come off the bench to contribute is very important.

“You never know what’s going to happen during a game,” senior captain Andrew Bourg said. “So you need to have guys coming off the bench that can contribute and we have that.”

Kemp, a junior, should have a good opportunity to get a fresh start next season, but for the rest of this season he will be a seldom-used role player. For a competitive player like Kemp, this is a difficult thought to fathom.

“I think being a junior factors into my role with the team,” Kemp said. “Hopefully next year I get to play and prove myself.”

For seniors, the thought of a next chance does not occur.  Senior Kyler Hermanski has played soccer since age 4 and is a major contributor for his club soccer team, Classic, although he is mainly a reserve for the Coppell soccer team.  The Cowboys team is always one of the elite in the state, so many solid players may not have the same opportunity as they do on their club teams.

“I understand the fact that we have a really good team,” Hermanski said. “I just have to keep a good attitude and continue to practice hard.”

Having a player like Hermanski stick with the soccer program for all four years of high school with a good hard working attitude is something a program needs. 

“Kyler’s biggest contribution to the team comes in his positive attitude and consistent work ethic,” Coach Shane Bybee said.  “He is a reserve player, but when he steps on the field to play midfield or forward, the team clearly has confidence in the quality work he’ll put in.”

 That example will stick with younger players in the program and ultimately make them better players because of it.  For Hermanski, this season has been more rewarding because his playing time during games has improved little by little to the point where he plays a meaningful role in important games.

“It is difficult sometimes to not play as much as I want,” Hermanski said. “I have no regrets about my work ethic up to this point and hope to get more playing time in the future.”

As opposed to soccer and basketball where there are different positions and more substitutions, football back-ups might not get near the exposure they desire as an underclassman.  Junior back-up quarterback Joe Minden might have been the least known Coppell football player, while senior Hayden Hawk was re-writing the record books this past season, but Minden will soon become the center of attention.  

In Coppell’s recent past of quarterbacks, it is a pattern that each junior backup takes over after the reigning senior graduates.  This for the most part has been a very successful system, producing many top flight passers that seem mentally and physically ready to lead the team.  However, the lack of experience against varsity competition and the rust on a player like Minden may show a few games into the season.

“It will be a challenge to be the new quarterback at Coppell,” Minden said. “I just hope we can do better than we did this year”

To sit and watch an entire varsity season unfold as a player with little to no pressure is one thing, but to go into the next season with a whole town viewing your every move is a difficult thought to fathom.

“I wish we could still play the Lewisville schools because I am accustomed to their styles and that would help me adjust,” Minden said. “I still think we will be successful in the new district, though.”

When the least light is on a person their true character shines brightest, and for many Coppell players this rule surely applies.  As opposed to getting recognition like the star players, the benchwarmers, who are reserved for viewing purposes, know hard work and persevering attitudes only make them stronger going forward in their sport and in life.