Central Illinois is filled with amazing student athletes. The Ultimate are something truly special. These skilled talents are few and far between. Sharpening their minds in the classroom and their bodies and skills away from it.
For this week’s inaugural Ultimate Athlete, I sat down with Steffen Hilsenhoff. Steffen is a junior at BBCHS. In this interview we discuss Steffen’s challenges and achievements as a high school sports athlete.
Steffen, I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy day to do this interview. What sport or sports do you play?
For my junior year, I was involved in 3 varsity sports: Golf and Water Polo at BBCHS. Hockey with Kankakee Irish. In the past I’ve played football with the Bourbonnais Bears and K3 Lightning, wrestled with the Brawlers, played baseball in Little League, Pony and grade school, and played grade school basketball.
What are your future aspirations after high school? Also, do you have a plan in place to fulfill your dreams?
Originally, I thought about attending a college that offered water polo. I attended a camp where a seminar was given by D2 and D3 coaches discussing what was available for water polo scholarships. I realized the only options were private colleges which are very expensive, and the amount offered for water polo didn’t justify the amount of student debt I would have to take on. My goal is to enter a trade union following graduation as soon as openings occur.
Have you had any nail-biting incidents in sports that have had happy endings?
We have had a decent season in water polo this year. There are always games you wish you could have done a couple things different to secure a win. We did beat 2 of the 3 Lincoln Way teams this year, so that is an improvement over last season. We want to do well to make this season memorable for our 3 seniors.
Have you ever had any serious injuries? If so how did you deal with these and overcome the obstacles?
No serious injuries, thankfully. However, this year I’m dealing with some health issues that have affected me in several negative ways. We are hoping to find some answers soon.
Is it difficult for you to balance sports with school work?
Life is busy, the way I like it. It gets a little overwhelming when sports seasons overlap. I know that getting enough sleep doesn’t happen often.
How do your parents support you in sports?
I have two great models of what sports parents should be. My mom often adjusts her work schedule around my games. She is always providing positive support. My dad has driven me to countless practices and games. He has coached me at times and has helped teams with filming games too. He offers advice without sugar coating anything and helped shape my competitive nature.
What would you say the role of a coach is beyond helping develop skills as an athlete?
I’ve been blessed with some great coaches over the years. The coaches you remember the most are the ones that get to know you, figure out how to teach all different personality types that make up a team. That isn’t easy! Coaches that pass along life lessons either by example or by team talks are very important and appreciated.
What are some words of encouragement you would give younger athletes?
I would tell young athletes to try a variety of sports. You may surprise yourself as to which one you find yourself enjoying the most. Always, always keep sports fun! In closing, I would like to encourage future high school athletes to give water polo a try. I learned about it watching my older brother play. I love the conditioning it requires, and the strategy involved. It can get extremely physical, especially in certain positions. BBCHS has great coaches in both boys’ and girls’ programs. There is a great bond that exists with teammates and judging by the big turnout every year for the annual Alumni water polo tournament, those friendships built last a lifetime.
Country Herald would once again like to thank Steffen Hilsenoff for taking time out of his busy day to chat with us. Country Herald would also like to thank Steffen’s parents for allowing us to interview him. Country Herald looks to support our local athlete’s anyway we can. Do you know an Ultimate athlete? To be featured in a future spotlight have them fill out the form here at gocorn.org/athlete