KARE 11 anchor Randy Shaver played football and ran track while growing up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“I still, to this day, appreciate and love everything that happened to me in high school,” Shaver said at the Park High School Athletic Awards ceremony May 28 at Park High School.
Shaver, who also ran track at Iowa State University, said he’s a firm believer that football and track teach athletes about much more than just the sport, but about life as well.
He turned to those lessons when he battled cancer in 1998. Shaver was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Disease.
Shaver said it was at that time when he turned back to a phrase one of his high school coaches always used to tell him. “You have to be a 6 o’clock player in a 6 o’clock league.” Shaver never understood that saying, until he was going through his cancer treatment. It was at that time when he realized the saying meant he had to be ready to act when the time came from him to do so. Shaver said that saying helped him get through treatment, and eventually reach remission.
“My high school experience was awesome in so many ways and I’m a believer that football does so many things to prepare you for what is ahead in life,” he said. “To be a good teammate, mental toughness, to be able to be a leader, to take criticism, to be able to make the adjustment, to think about what my job is and to do my job to help the betterment of the team. All of those things you do when you go through that cancer experience.”
It’s partially because of those lessons he learned that Shaver is such an advocate of students not only participating in athletics, but competing in multiple sports.
“When you’re an athlete, you have to find what’s in your heart,” he said. “I love athletes who play multiple sports. You should never specialize when you’re young. You just never should. Your time is too short. You should be trying everything. ... You should be with your friends and playing every sport. The clock is ticking and time is too short. Before you know it, it’s gone, you’re done.”
Shaver said his oldest son didn’t go out for track during his junior or senior years of high school, opting instead to lift for football. Shaver told his son he would regret the decision.
“And you know what, he did, when he got done, he regretted it,” he said. “Mostly because there were a lot of girls who went out for track, but he regretted it.”
Park athletic director Phil Kuemmel said the coaches at Park often talk about the importance of sharing athletes.
That was evident at the awards ceremony, when three-sport athletes lined the walls of the cafeteria as they were honored by the athletic department. Sixty-plus students from Park participate in all three sports seasons during the school year.
“I love hearing things from guys like [Twins first baseman] Joe Mauer, who talked about the best thing he did in high school was play basketball, even though it was his third sport,” Kuemmel said at the ceremony. “We really try to encourage the kids to play multiple sports. Sometimes it’s not always three, but besides just that one sport that’s yours, try to be involved in multiple sports. We have kids that are definitely involved in multiple sports.”
And as Shaver stared out into the packed Park cafeteria and scanned the many faces of Wolfpack athletes looking back at him, he said he wondered what lessons the students would take from their high school athletic careers.
“This is the best time of your life -- this is your time,” he said. “So make the most of it. Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t narrow the focus. Listen to your coaches and listen to your teachers. … I’m telling you there’s going to be people who are going to change your path, and you’ve got to be ready for it, because it’ll change your life.”
Some of the awards and scholarships presented at the ceremony are as follows:
JR WOLFPACK FOOTBALL SCHOLARSHIP: Sam Domeier and Cody Buetow
CGAA SOFTBALL SCHOLARSHIP: Kathy Melton and Amber Galloway
CGAA BASEBALL SCHOLARSHIP: Matt Palmquist and JP Pallias
BRAD SWANSON MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Matt Palmquist
SOUTH WASHINGTON COUNTY SCHOLARSHIP: Mallorie Briggs
ACADEMIC ALL-CONFERENCE AWARD (3.65 GPA or higher and graduating senior with All-Conference honors): Temi Ogunrinde, Anna Keys, Matt Goecke and Evan Bonneson
TRIPLE “A” AWARD: Molly Moran and Nathan Grosse
EXCEL AWARD: Bailey Aasen, Meghan Kuemmel, Ethan Berube
U.S. MARINE CORPS AWARD: Sydney Lamberty, Cody Linssen
EARL GUSTAFSON AWARD: Molly Swanson, Sam Domeier
U.S. ARMY HONOR ATHLETE AWARD: Temi Ogunrinde, Matt Goecke
ATHENA AWARD: Anna Keys
APOLLO AWARD: Evan Bonneson
PRIDE in the PACK AWARD: Sam Flack, Mallorie Briggs. Matt Palmquist and Brent Wallace