Jeff Crater used to plant the motivational seed every year with his son.
“I think this year you should be all-state,” Jeff would say. And while Tyler understood, he did not seriously consider that as a possibility.
“I looked at that as a far-off goal,” Crater said. “And this year, I kind of started out the basketball season thinking, ‘Why does it have to be a far-off goal?’ ”
Crater wound up earning all-state honorable mention in basketball and baseball. He played an integral role at running back for the Whip-Purs football team and finished No. 3 academically in Hampshire’s senior class.
For his outstanding work in sports and in the classroom, Crater is the 2013 Northwest Herald Male Athlete of the Year, which is awarded each year by the sports staff to the person deemed the best senior athlete. Crystal Lake Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Rochell will donate $2,500 from the Rochell Foundation to Hampshire’s athletic programs in Crater’s name.
Crater won by the narrowest margin over Huntley’s Bryce Only, 27 votes to 26, with both receiving three first-place votes. The last Male Athlete of the Year winner from Hampshire was Jake Goebbert in 2006, who competed in the same three sports as Crater.
“[Crater] kind of reminds me of Jake,” Hampshire boys basketball coach Bob Barnett said. “Jake was personable and happy-go-lucky. Tyler is more introverted, but they played the same sports and both of them were really good. Tyler’s a special kid.”
Crater (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) averaged an area-best 18.0 points a game in basketball and hit 58 3-pointers, second in the area to Woodstock’s Andy Buhrow (68). He was a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection and helped the Whips to a share of the
Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title with Crystal Lake Central and one of the best records (23-6) in school history.
In baseball, he hit .385 with one home run, 13 RBIs and was 10 of 12 in stolen bases while playing catcher for the Whip-Purs. He was an All-Area honorable-mention selection. He gained 310 yards and averaged 6.2 yards-a-carry in football.
Crater was a Class 3A All-State honorable-mention pick by The Associated Press for basketball and was named to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 3A All-State honorable mention list for baseball.
Crater, who scored 30 on his ACT, will play basketball and baseball at NAIA Olivet Nazarene in Bourbonnais. He is playing with the Romeoville Royals in the Chicago Suburban Baseball League this summer, and working out and shooting at Hampshire High School.
Somehow, Crater juggled constantly being busy with athletics or homework and thrived at both.
“It’s tough, it’s always a balance [with academics and sports],” Crater said. “You have to pay attention in class. I always tell people who ask, ‘How do you get good grades?’ that paying attention in class is the first part. [Sports] are my passion and school is important, so it’s keeping my priorities in line.”
Crater’s coaches were moved by the leadership he demonstrated this year.
“He’s not a big talker, but he’s a behind-the-scenes guy,” Hampshire baseball coach John Sarna said. “He told the coaches he was going to have a ‘players only’ meeting [before the season] to set the expectations and how to handle things, chain of command. That’s the kind of leadership you don’t see that often.”
Barnett saw similar things from Crater in the basketball season.
“Junior year, he was very conservative, very introverted,” Barnett said. “At the beginning of the year, he basically took over. My job was easy. Him and Shane [Hernandez]. This class was probably in my top three most enjoyable years.”
Barnett found Crater more outgoing and funny this year. The coach hardly could believe what he saw on “Dress Like a Teacher Day” early in the school year. Right there in front of him was his double, with slicked-back hair, sandals, khaki shorts, a “Hampshire” basketball shirt and even a basketball-grained folder and water bottle.
“I walked in and said, ‘Oh, my God,’ ” Barnett said. “It was hilarious.”
Northwest Herald Male Athlete of the Year
Pl. Athlete, School Sports Votes (1st-place votes)
1. Tyler Crater, Hampshire FB, BKB, BB 27 (3)
2. Bryce Only, Huntley BKB, BB 26 (3)
3. Zach Marszal, Cary-Grove FB, BB 10 (1)
4. Chris Streveler, Marian Central FB 9
5. Eric Schiller, CL South FB, BKB, BB 8
Others receiving votes: Alex Baker (CL Central, XC, T&F) 7, Ryne Blanton (Richmond-Burton, FB, BB) 5, Chance Shelton (Harvard, FB, WR, BB) 4, Korey Partenheimer (McHenry, FB, BKB, BB) 4, Jordan Turner (Woodstock, BKB, BB) 3, Connor Conzelman (Jacobs, FB, BB) 2.