Athletes of the Week: Congrats to Ella Myers and Ryker Small

Apr. 29—The votes are in. Powered by Copper Creek Contractors, Ryker Small of Hoopeston Area baseball and Ella Myers of Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin softball are this week's winners. Here they are, in their own words, with their biggest supporters — their teammates:

Ella Myers — Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin softball➜ Why she's Athlete of the Week: Myers had a three-day stretch most players only dream of. On April 18, she went 3 for 3 with a grand slam, double and seven RBI in the Blue Devils' 17-0 win against Oakwood. The next day, she was 3 for 4 with a home run, triple, four RBI and three runs scored in a 16-6 win against Watseka. The next, she went 5 for 5 with three home runs, a double and seven RBI in an 18-7 win against Clifton Central.

➜ From Myers: "I had all my friends and family vote, and they even sent it out to different states. I was definitely shocked when I won it, and I was super excited ... My dad has been really good at calming me down at the plate lately. It's really easy to get into your head with softball because it's a game of failure. It's hard to pull yourself away from that, but my dad is really good at telling me, 'Don't think about your last at-bat. It doesn't matter if you failed. Just go up there, and hit the next one.' He doesn't put a lot of pressure on me and allows me to just go up there and do my thing, and I think that's what helps."

➜ My favorite TV show is ... "Grey's Anatomy."

➜ My favorite music genre is ... country, and my favorite artist is Cody Johnson.

➜ If I could have any superpower, it would be ... to read minds. I would see what the pitcher is trying to throw me so I could jump on it.

➜ Something that's on my bucket list is ... skydiving and flying over the Grand Canyon.

➜ My biggest pet peeve is ... when people park right next to me in an empty parking lot.

➜ My favorite softball memory is ... when I hit my first home run. I'm still pretty scrawny, but I was 13 or 14 when I hit it, and I was a whopping 100 pounds soaking wet. I had a lot of people doubting me, so when I hit that, it was a core memory.

➜ My favorite sports team is ... Oklahoma softball, and I love Grace Lyons.

➜ Before a game ... I always put my left sock on before my right. I always say a quick little prayer. After that, we go into our stretching warmups. Then, it's time to hit, and I'm always ready for it.

➜ After a game ... I always talk to my teammates. Somebody's going to have a good game. Whether the team played bad or not, somebody's going to pull through and be the highlight of that game. I always like to thank that teammate, tell them, 'Good job' and congratulate them. I love to pick people up, so that's a big thing for me.

➜ In five years ... hopefully, I get to play softball somewhere else after DACC. I should just be finishing up playing, hopefully at a big D-I school, but I'll be happy with anything. I would love to go into nursing, start my nursing career and help people out from there.

➜ Athlete of the Week finalists: Emily Czerwonka, Tuscola softball; Erika Johnson, Mahomet-Seymour soccer; Marrissa Miller, Monticello softball.

Ryker Small — Hoopeston Area baseball➜ Why he's Athlete of the Week: Small got the job done both on the mound and at the plate in the Cornjerkers' 7-0 win against Milford on April 19. He pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out 13 batters while helping himself with the bat with three hits.

➜ From Small: "I was very happy. I feel like I'm finally getting recognized for all the hard work I've been putting in, and it feels really good, and everyone around me was happy for me. ... It was one of those games where you don't think. When you don't think, you play the best, and I feel like that's what that game was. I wasn't really thinking. I was just playing, everything just came together and I played my heart out."

➜ My favorite TV show is ... "Breaking Bad."

➜ My favorite music genre is ... '90s rock, and I like Stone Temple Pilots.

➜ If I could have any superpower, it would be ... throwing 100 mph.

➜ Something that's on my bucket list is ... playing Division I baseball and traveling the world.

➜ My biggest pet peeve is ... when people join conversations when they're not in it.

➜ My favorite baseball memory is ... when I signed to play at Kankakee Community College last Wednesday.

➜ My favorite sports team is ... the New York Yankees, and my favorite athlete is Derek Jeter.

➜ Before a game ... I usually drink two Red Bulls. I do a bunch of stretching and a few sprints, and I'm usually ready to rock and roll after that.

➜ After a game ... I head to Casey's or McDonald's.

➜ In five years ... I want to develop as a better baseball player and better person by playing junior college baseball at Kankakee Community College. Then, I want to move to a four-year college to play baseball. I want to see how far I can take baseball before I give it up.

➜ Athlete of the Week finalists: Hayden Chew, Salt Fork baseball; Madden Schurvinske, Centennial baseball; Connor Smith, Oakwood track and field.