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Taking nothing for granted, Spartan Spotlight with Sam Wesley

A little more than a week ago, The Sentinel asked St. Joseph-Ogden senior Sam Wesley what lessons he thought the Class of 2020 will learn from the last six weeks of living through a pandemic. With the likely possibility that the spring sports season will be canceled later today, no prom and possible to mass celebration with fellow graduates at a commencement ceremony, we wanted to know what lessons he thought from this unprecedented time in life in America they would carry with them into the future.

It was an easy question for Wesley. You see, he just turned in a paper on the topic for his English class and provided an excerpt:

"Going into my senior year we all had goals to come away as State Champions. We all knew we had the potential to do it. We had the pitching, hitting, and everything needed to be the one baseball team that went through SJO and came away as champions. Instead, this season has taught everyone many life lessons. Do not take anything for granted. Never complain about practice or games or anything. Give all of your love to the game and play every pitch with the mentality that it could be your last. As I walked off the field, for potentially the last time, all of the memories flooded my mind. I will never love a sport as much as I love baseball and I am in everlasting debt to this game. Thank you for all the friends, memories, and countless lessons I have learned since I was three. I will never lose my love for this beautiful game."

"I would just say for everyone to never take anything for granted because things can be taken away at unexpected times," he said. "It is important to cherish the things that are most important to you."

This morning, one of things Wesley was looking forward to his senior year finally was taken away. The Illinois High School Association canceled all spring sports for the 2019-2020 season, a crushing call for Wesley and his teammates who were indeed, with their stacked roster, a favorite from this area to reach the state finals.

For a guy who admits he is guilty of using the phrase 'I don't care' a little to way too often, well, he really does.

He added, "I think people in general need to refrain from using this because opinions are important and need to be heard."

One of the things he does care about before heading off a hop, skip and jump over to the University of Illinois this fall where he will major in Agricultural Accounting and where his older sister, Hannah, is also studying, is learning to cook his favorite dish.

"I need to learn how to make breakfast casseroles," Wesley confessed. "I love breakfast food and it is easy to microwave and eat quickly so that could be an important dish."

During his high school career, the St. Joseph native who lives with mother and father, was a four-year member of the SJO baseball team and played three season of football for the Spartans. He was also a member of AMP, Spanish Club and the Maroon Platoon as well as participated in the Future Spartans Mentoring Program.

SJO senior Sam Wesley

His participation in a wide variety of activities at SJO created a number of cherished memories. The majority of them are from playing his favorite sport, baseball.

At end of his first season with the Spartans his freshman year, the Spartan baseball team advanced to the IHSA State Baseball Tournament in Peoria. He was a part of the team that brought home the program's second consecutive second-place baseball state trophy despite a 10-2 loss to Teutopolis.

His most vivid memory was etched last spring when SJO faced Tuscola in their postseason sectional title game at Illinois Wesleyan University.

"The game was unforgettable because of the atmosphere and the energy the crowd created around us. Stepping foot on the field and feeling a whole community cheer for you is something that is really powerful," he reminisced. "Also, I have played with Logan Tabeling and Lucas Kresin (two players from Tuscola) for five years during the summer.

"The competition was on a whole different level. I respect their game and am excited to see what they can do at each of their respective universities."

When it comes to academics, Wesley really enjoyed going to all the classes he wanted to take at SJO. He credited the faculty and the amount of care they provide as the main reason high school was a really positive experience for him.

"They are always willing to go out of their way to help the students. Every teacher I know has an open door policy and if we have problems with anything we can go to them," he said. "I find this to be very important because it allows students to open up and everyone knows that they have someone supporting them. That is what makes SJO really special, not only as a school, but as a community."

His favorite classes were Economics with Mr. Marshall Schacht, Calculus with Mrs. Kelly Steffen, and English 101/102 with Mrs. Heather Lindenmeyer.

Wesley has compiled a long list of favorite teachers. Many favorite teachers including Mrs. Dunn, Mr. Miller, Mr. Risley, and Mr. Steele at St. Joseph Grade School and St. Joseph Middle School. At SJO, his favorite teachers are Mrs. Jeanna Kerner, Mr. Zak Sutton, Mr. Schacht, Mrs. Steffen, and Mrs. Lindenmeyer.

His hobbies include hanging out with family and friends and traveling. In fact, he loves to travel. His top three places to visit include Cancun, Ireland and Alaska.

"If I could choose three places (to go), the first one would be Cancun," he offered as his first choice. "I love the beach and the ocean and being able to spend time in a tropical place is always fun."

Considering his strong family values, the next two places on his list are for sentimental reasons, especially a trip to Alaska.

My sister has always wanted to do a family vacation (in Ireland), so traveling with her there someday is a goal of mine," Wesley said. "My grandpa died when I was six years old and his goal was always to take my grandma to Alaska for a trip. I would love to go with her because she has never been able to go."

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