Sometimes great teammates are hard to find in the box score. Stats just don’t do them justice.
Go to a game in person, though, and they’ll be pretty easy to spot. Just look at the bottom of the scrums for loose balls, the middle of the huddles or the other end of an extra pass for a wide-open look. You’ll know ’em when you see ’em.
For Hayes, a team packed with pretty good teammates, 6-foot-6 senior forward Sam Midura and 5-8 junior guard Tracey Sumner, two of the team’s four captains, are two of the best.
“I’ve never coached two kids at the same time who were better teammates than Tracey and Sam,” Hayes coach Jordan Blackburn said. “They get no credit, but on a really young team, they are two of the biggest reasons why we always have a chance.
“To have them both on the same team is really special. Neither seeks the spotlight, nor do they get credit from the outside, but the two of them have been nothing short of vital to any success we’ve had. They both value the team way more than they do themselves or personal goals and accolades.”
Midura said, as a captain, being the best teammate he can possibly be is as much an obligation as it is a choice.
“Being a captain makes me feel responsible for how the team is playing,” he said, “so I try my best to set an example.”
That and, well, he wants to win for the guys as much as himself.
“When I’m out on the court, I’d do anything for the team,” he said. “I consider every player on the team one of my brothers … I’d do anything for them. I think the reason I have such a close relationship with the team is because of all the off-season training we did before and after school. Whether it be running or lifting, I developed a super-strong relationship with the boys.”
Sumner, meanwhile, said being a great teammate — someone who puts the team first and is always positive and encouraging — is second nature. As one of six siblings with a pair of hard-working parents, a mother and father who are as generous as they are gracious, it’s just who he is. It’s who he was raised to be.
“My family and I are extremely close and I was able to learn so much from them,” he said. “My dad is probably the hardest worker I know. He has many medical problems and still works full-time and sometimes even 12-14 hours a day … so my hardworking trait comes from him.
“My mom, on the other hand, is the most unselfish person I have ever met in my life. She does everything to make other people happy — she puts her own happiness last after everyone else. All she cares about is making other people happy and that’s what I strive to do.
“I give all the credit for my success to my family. They shaped me into the man I am today.”
The beneficiaries of Midura and Sumner’s leadership and example include fellow captain Will Yoakum, the Pacers’ all-everything senior guard and one of the area’s top scorers.
“They both are quality role models and teammates,” Yoakum said. “They are always thinking about what is best for the team. I’m very lucky to call them my friends and teammates.”
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.