They're dedicated -- together
Phooey on summer vacation.
Who needs it?
Not Logan Kent. Not this year, anyway.
Summer vacation will bring with it major shoulder surgery for the Antioch baseball standout. On top of that, it will break up a tradition that has been a part of his life for about the last decade.
That's how long Kent, a junior outfielder for the Sequoits, has played on the same baseball team as his best friend and classmate, Andy Danna, the starting shortstop.
Add it all up and the two boys of summer have been teammates for more than half of their lives.
"Andy and I go way back and it's going to be weird for me not to play because we really like playing summer ball together," said Kent, whose labrum, torn in both the front and back, is in desperate need of repair. "It's so much fun. During the summer, we're like brothers."
"Our families are pretty close, too," Danna said. "We go out to eat after games. We all hang out. It's pretty fun."
No wonder Kent, who will be sidelined from the day of his surgery in June until next January, wants to put off summer as long as possible.
Lucky for him, the spring season could easily be extended much longer than usual.
The Sequoits are one of the hottest teams in the North Suburban Conference right now. As of Wednesday, one day after nailing down a convincing 10-2 win over archrival Lakes, they were sitting on an impressive 10-1 record in the Prairie Division and in great shape to win at least a share of the division title.
It was the potential for a season like this that made Kent push back his surgery until June, even though he goes home every day with a throbbing shoulder.
And it was the potential for a season like this that has also made him work out in his free time like he's never even heard the words "torn labrum" before.
"Logan hasn't missed a practice, hasn't missed a minute. He's always working hard, even on his own," Antioch coach Paul Petty said. "Actually, both him and Andy are like that. They just never miss a beat. They're both extremely dedicated to the game."
Perhaps that goes back to their earliest days in summer baseball. Kent and Danna are two of Antioch's best hitters and fielders -- and that doesn't seem to be by accident.
"Coach (Petty) says we're always the first ones at the field and the last ones to leave and if we didn't have people already assigned to carry the equipment bag we'd do that, too," Danna said with a laugh. "When we were younger, we were on a travel team where if you didn't sprint out to your position between innings, you'd have to go back to the dugout and do it again. I think the way we are now goes back to how we were taught over the years."
"We always hustle, we always give 100 percent."
Kent and Danna seem to give even more than that when they're up against each other.
They say that one of the best parts of their friendship is the competitiveness that exists between them. It has made them both much better players.
"We definitely push each other -- and that fuels and sparks something inside," Kent said. "It's almost like there's this little competition between us in everything we do. We race each other in drills to see who's the fastest, stuff like that. They're friendly competitions but we definitely make each other work."
Of course, as they train to beat each other in everything from sprint times to batting averages and fielding percentages, Kent and Danna train ... together.
Baseball together is what they know, and what they prefer.
During this past off-season, Kent and Danna worked out together almost daily. When they weren't at the gym, they were at the batting cages at school early on weekend mornings.
Sometimes, they would retreat to Kent's basement or Danna's garage.
"Logan has these big pop-up nets in his basement that you can soft toss into or hit off a tee," Danna said. "And I have a big tarp that hangs down (in front of the garage door) that we can hit into. Doing that stuff has really helped, too. It gets your eye (trained) and you're able to work on your swing.
"We're just always trying to get better."
Yes, it's so they can best each other. But it's also so they can move on to bigger and better things.
Both Kent and Danna dream of playing college baseball someday.
They have for a long time now, maybe even before they became teammates for the first time.
No summer hiatus is going to change that for Kent.
"I think one of the reasons Andy and I are such good friends is that we have a lot of the same dreams and goals and we are committed to working as hard as we can to reach them," Kent said. "I think we're just really dedicated to being the best we can be."