By Joel Muhs / Sports Editor

It’s not often when a single word can bring millions of people together, whether they are friend or foe. That word is “sports.”

Whether it’s Sunday night in the NFL or a middle-of-the-week girls high school basketball game, sports hold a special place in the hearts of many, and Hutchinson Community College athletes are no different.

No matter the time of year, sports can be found on television screens across the world. Although the 24/7 access to sports is a luxury to fans, it can be hard to fathom the grind that takes place for athletes day in and out. However, it’s the payoff that makes it worth it for many.

“I love when you put in all the hard work in at practice, you see it pay off later down the line,” said sophomore Blue Dragon golfer Ben Partridge, who helped the Blue Dragons win a national championship in the spring. “It’s not like an exam (where) you do the exam and then you get the results back minutes after. With golf, you might see it two months later. That excitement is what drives me as a player.”

Ben Partridge

Some athletes don’t get started in their respective sports until further along in their careers, but with HutchCC freshman soccer goalkeeper Madison Quarles, it was already a part of her and her family.

“I basically grew up around sports and everyone in my family always played one too. As a kid, I probably played at least one sport a season,” Quarles said. “But I think soccer is the one that I eventually went with due to my enjoyment for the sport and not a lot of my family did play it.”

Quarles isn’t alone when it comes to having an enjoyment for sports since early on, as HutchCC sophomore and football lineman Gerald Sanders, who also helped his team win a national championship in the spring, has carried a love of football with him since his youth.

“I’ve been playing and watching football since I was young, and it all started when I was five years old,” Sanders said. “I’ve had a love for the game ever since.”

Much like life, sports can have its fair share of ups and downs. From the high of winning a championship, to the low of having a season cut short due to injury or a worldwide pandemic, there is one thing that can be counted on when it comes to sports for the Blue Dragons and for all athletes alike – the family.“In general, my favorite thing about soccer is how universal it is and the people you meet playing,” Quarles said about soccer, and sports, as a whole. “It’s something that can connect people in so many ways and it’s always super interesting to hear other people’s past playing experiences. It truly makes me feel like a part of a family.”

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