From the margin
By Mike Stegall
When I was working on radio in Wilmington, Ohio (WDHK) I was fortunate enough to be there and have a sports show everyday. I was the only person to have a live radio show from the soccer field with legendary Bengals coach and owner Paul Brown. I have had the chance to interview quite a few famous athletes through this program, Bengals and other team members as well, and I have also met a lot of Reds players. I had the good fortune to meet Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and other members of other teams. I guess I was lucky enough to meet a lot of famous people. I have met MLB All Stars, NFL All-Pro players, NASCAR champion drivers, military leaders and more. But, out of all the people I have met and interviewed, I never had the chance to speak to an All-American high school studentâ¦ until Tuesday!
Susie Blocher is a special person. She is one of 48 American athletes to win the ALL-AMERICAN title in softball. This places her in an elite group of athletes from other sports who are also the best at their sport. She is also an exceptional student. Susie and her parents, Kent and Tonya Blocher, are great people (I’ve known her dad for a long time!), And they did a great job raising such a happy, charming, responsible and fiercely competitive daughter.
We met at the Coffee Pot and I had a wonderful time listening and talking to Susie. She watches all sports except hockey, which she just can’t get excited about, and watches as much softball, mostly at the SEC, as she can. She is interested in going down south to play softball and casually mentioned Georgia and South Carolina, but nothing solid yet.
She has a part-time job at the Dairy King here in town (she’s special if she can handle Dave McCartney! I owed her that!) And seems to be handling whatever has been put on her this year, and coping pretty well. It’s easy to see there’s a fire inside when she talks about softball, and she doesn’t hesitate to give credit to her teammates and coaches. I asked her why she came to Greenville, and she said she saw the success story of the program and was sure she would learn more and have more opportunities here. She said the difference between Jerrod and Greg Newland, the coaches, is that Jerrod is more of a tactician (my word) and Greg is more of the old school. She also said the coaches trust the players, which she says leads to success. She thinks the combination works well.
I asked if she felt like an All-American, did she feel special? She paused for a moment, you could see in her eyes the thought she was putting into the question, and how to answer it. She said yes, and the responsibility that comes with it can be stressful. It’s a difficult question to answer without sounding arrogant. She explained that she knows that because of the price, she has a leadership position and has to live up to it. She nailed it – it was a completely honest answer said without a hint of arrogance. I asked her what she had done to become an All-American and she immediately replied that it was because of all the work she put in. She doesn’t mind the hard work, she is goal oriented and it shows. She will be spending hours at the Academy this winter preparing for softball and helping others improve too. Susie doesn’t want to disappoint anyone and takes her leadership seriously. She mentioned the stress she put on herself because she now feels the burden of being an All-American again in her senior year. She did say, however, that once the game started she could stop it all and just play ball, which she really enjoys doing. College softball is in her future and she would like to graduate and become a sports coach or something. I asked her why and she said with a laugh that she still seemed hurt! When she was younger she injured an ankle while playing basketball and all she said was jump! It still bothers here, a little.
Our interview lasted approximately 45 minutes and covered a number of topics. Susie faces the burden of being a student, a leader and a special athlete because of her award. She feels the pressure of being an All-American again. This is understandable. Once at the top of this mountain it is difficult to come back. Whether or not she becomes an All-American again, she still is and always will be an All-American person. Her mom and dad did an amazing job with her, keeping her down to earth. Of all the All-Pros, All-Stars and other high performing leaders I have met, she has become my favorite. She is going through a difficult period for her generation, and they are criticized all the time. This young woman is the star child of all that is good in children now. She is focused, motivated and knows her responsibilities and the burdens they bring. She is generous, hardworking and caring towards others. She is everything you could want in a person. I am happy to tell everyone that I know her and I am proud to call her my friend. That’s how I see it, from the side.
Contributing Columnist Mike Stegall, a 27-year-old former OHSAA High School football official and current Darke County Commissioner.