Piatt's OT: This is why I love what I do

Jan. 25—Before I get into the shoutouts and everything from the past week, I want to give a bigger shoutout to the people who make it worth it.

Ask any true journalist why they got into their profession, and they'll tell you about the passion they have for it.

Whether it's for storytelling, finding the truth or being a service to people, there's always an underlying passion. We don't do it for the praise. We don't do it to see our name in the paper every day (although, that is pretty cool). And we certainly don't do it for the money.

It's an unforgiving business, but every once in a while, someone thanks you for what you do, and it makes your week. This week, I was lucky enough to have that happen three days in a row.

On Monday afternoon, Mary Hatfield, mother of Tuscola senior multi-sport star Josiah Hortin, emailed a "Thank you" note for covering her son's college signing event.

Hortin, the point guard on the Warriors' boys' basketball team with aspirations to reach the Class 1A state tournament again and a distance running standout, signed with Louisville last Friday to continue his cross-country and track and field careers at the Division I level.

On Tuesday evening, at the Twin City boys' swimming meet at Unit 4 Pool at Centennial, Champaign Central coach Dave Young went out of his way to introduce himself and repeatedly thanked me for being there.

On Wednesday morning, John Farney, father of St. Joseph-Ogden freshman runner Nate Farney, reached out with his appreciation for the coverage of the local preps scene and even gave me a really interesting story idea that you might see in these pages in the near future.

This doesn't happen often, and that's why I'm soaking it up now.

Enough of me getting all sappy on you. Time to get into what you came here for.

A look back

New AOTW process

Thanks to a new sponsor, Copper Creek Contractors, we've changed the way we select our Athletes of the Week. It's now a voting process to get the readers more involved, and it was hit from day one.

In case you haven't seen them yet, here are the first crop of finalists:

For the boys:

➜ Kollin Asbury, an Armstrong-Potomac basketball player who scored the second-most points (116) in a single Vermilion County Tournament ever.

➜ Peyton Kuemmerle, a Schlarman basketball player who scored 30 points in the Hilltoppers' second win of the season.

➜ Trevor Plattner, a Champaign Central swimmer who earned three event wins to help the Maroons to victory.

➜ Trevor Schoonover, a Centennial wrestler who won the 138-pound weight class at the Big 12 Conference Meet.

➜ Jaydah Arrowsmith, an Oakwood basketball player who averaged 18.5 points per game in the Vermilion County Tournament.

➜ Alexa Jamison, a Salt Fork basketball player who scored 22 points in the Storm's Vermilion County Tournament championship win.

➜ Jacey Kessler, an Arcola basketball player who scored a career-high 32 points and made a Purple Rider single-game record nine three-pointers.

➜ Hunter Mowrey, a Milford basketball player who recorded her 1,000th career rebound.

Asbury and Jamison have emerged as the frontrunners, but you can still vote through Thursday. Head to, hover over the "Sports" tab and click on "Prep Sports." That's where you will find the polls.

Also, consider this my shoutout to Asbury, Kessler and Mowrey. Their accomplishments would normally be included in the "Shoutouts" section of my column, but I'd just be repeating myself.

Speaking of shoutouts, let's get to those.


Drew Wichtowski

The Westville senior scored his 1,000th career point in the Tigers' final Vermilion County Tournament pool-play game last Thursday and followed it up with a game-high 29 points in the third-place game.

Aidyn Beck

It came in a loss, but the Champaign Central junior also scored his 1,000th career point Tuesday, putting up a team-high 11 points in the Maroons' 77-43 loss to state-ranked Decatur MacArthur at Combes Gym in Champaign.

BHRA and Salt Fork

The Vermilion County basketball tournaments played the majority of their games at Mary Miller Gym on the Danville Area Community College campus last week.

But when water pressure issues in Danville happened, Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin stepped up to host three boys' games last Thursday. Salt Fork did the same for three girls' games, including the title game won by the host Storm, last Friday night. Well done by all involved on such short notice to keep the tournament running.

Area athletic directors

It's no fun dealing with snow, ice and bone-chilling temperatures that cause in-person learning to come to a halt.

Then add on rescheduling games during the final few weeks of the basketball, wrestling and boys' swimming seasons.

That's what nearly every school in our coverage area had to deal with this week, though, and a large majority of Monday and Tuesday events that were affected by weather have already been rescheduled.

Valued scoretakers

Whether it's the head coach themselves, an assistant coach, a team manager, a team parent or a volunteer, the hundreds of names you read each week in The News-Gazette's prep highlights section isn't possible without the hard work of these individuals. They don't do it for the limelight or the pay. But reporting results to us here on a daily basis does not go unnoticed.

One more reminder for schools when it comes to reporting results: Please email all pertinent statistical information to no later than 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and no later than 9 p.m. on Saturday. Then, we'll do our best to include all the info we can to highlight the area preps scene.