Diverse trio makes the Crusaders go
There is one specific argument that occurs repeatedly between Kapaun Mount Carmel senior forward Sydney Kuhn and junior guards Grace Hagan and Sam Bachrodt.
The trio of future Division I athletes, who lead Kapaun’s 2-0 basketball team, have heartfelt, passionate discourse about ... whether basketball, soccer or volleyball is the best sport.
“They’ll never admit it, but they secretly love basketball. They do,” Bachrodt said.
Hagan and Kuhn laugh at Bachrodt’s suggestion. For Hagan, a quick guard who plays swarming defense, soccer is her favorite sport. She has made an oral commitment to play at Kansas.
For Kuhn, a physical forward with an affinity for blocking shots, it’s all about volleyball. She has signed to play at Notre Dame.
Bachrodt is a basketball girl with a smooth shot, ballhandling skills and she can get inside to rebound. She has made an oral commitment to play at Drake.
The three hope to lead the Crusaders back to the Class 5A tournament. They helped Kapaun win the 5A title in 2012.
“That we’re all Division I athletes really shows everyone’s dedication and willingness to get better and do the things that have to be done off the court and put in the extra time,” Kuhn said.
Kapaun coach Marvin Estes believes the skills of Bachrodt, Hagan and Kuhn are a tribute to their work ethic, athleticism and intelligence.
“They work very hard, but I think it’s the mental preparation and the competitiveness,” Estes said. “They’re very patient, they don’t panic. They see something and they figure out how to stop it or take advantage of it.”
Kapaun was tested Tuesday when it beat visiting South, ending the Titans’ 23-game winning streak that included the 2013 Class 6A title.
Yet if Hagan and Kuhn took the path many athletes do, they wouldn’t be playing another sport. Many are concerned about suffering an injury.
“A lot of people were hesitant, parents and coaches — ‘we don’t want you to get hurt,’” Kuhn said. “Well, if I stop playing sports just because I’m worried about getting hurt, I would have stopped a long time ago. It’s my last chance to play basketball, why not make the best of it?”
Hagan’s feelings were similar.
“I think I just had to sit down and say, ‘I don’t know if it’s worth it to risk injury,’” said Hagan, who notes her workouts are designed to prevent injury.
Bachrodt, Hagan and Kuhn work out together twice a week with the same personal trainer. They challenge and compete with each other, all for the goal of becoming better athletes.
They grew up playing basketball together, and while their favorite sports weren’t the same, it never dulled their friendship.
“Ever since me and Grace got to Kapaun my freshman year, us three have bonded like no other,” Bachrodt said. “Practices with them are the best time of our lives.”
Bachrodt describes the relationship with Kuhn as almost motherly because of her supportive, kind personality.
“She’s there for you in everything that goes on in your life,” Bachrodt said. “She’s ready to give advice. She understands.”
Bachrodt turned to Kuhn during her recent recruiting. With so many decisions, so many conversations with coaches, so many things to figure out about the future, Kuhn’s experience helped.
“I don’t know what would have happened if she didn’t help me,” Bachrodt said. “I could talk to her about anything.”
Bachrodt and Hagan admit to a friendship — which began when Hagan moved to Wichita in second grade — that has been solidified by humor. At practice you might catch them on the floor laughing or dancing a self-described weird dance.
“I don’t think people really understand our humor,” Hagan said. “It’s so out there. We’ll say a joke and no one else will think it’s funny, but we’ll be on the floor laughing.”
Yet Bachrodt tends to be more serious than Hagan and Kuhn during games. Hagan said she falls into an intense sort of robotic mentality because she’s always thinking about the next play.
But Hagan and Kuhn understand. Basketball is Bachrodt’s sport.
Because the three tend to laugh — a lot — Estes has to reel them back in from time to time. He had to do it during Wednesday’s practice.
“They’re always laughing,” Estes said. “During free throws, I said, ‘Hey, guys, those younger girls are watching you and they’ll think you can slack off and do this. And you can’t.’ So they quit. But they are just great athletes and they do work well together.”
But when it comes down to it, for Hagan and Kuhn, playing basketball is really about playing with each other and Bachrodt.
Ultimately, the trio wanted to play together.
“I get to play with my friends, so why wouldn’t I play?” Kuhn asked. “Good team, good coach, good friends.”
“I’d say that if Sam and Sydney weren’t playing basketball, I wouldn’t be playing basketball,” she said.
As Bachrodt contends, “It wouldn’t be the same without them.”
Neither would the Crusaders.