Comeback Kids
Features, Seniors

Comeback Kids

By Jackson Teal

A comeback has a different story for everyone.

Maybe it is a below-average student not caring about school transforming himself into an honor roll student. 

Perhaps it is a student who takes a construction class for fun. Now he is turning trades into a plan for life.

Or, it could even be a scrawny sophomore corner finally being able to compete with the faster and more athletic players by his senior season.

“I know I wasn’t always the best student and I made it happen,” senior student-athlete Jayden Furney said. “So I think it’s possible for anyone to come back in anything they feel passionate about in life.”

Furney is a senior who said he began his high school career not caring about the work school brought on.

He was just ready to perfect his craft on the basketball court after school.

Furney was a three-year varsity basketball player and a part of the back-to-back IHSAA Class 3A final four teams.

“When the realization really kicked in that you needed a good GPA and good grades and all these other things to get into college,” Furney said, “that’s when the determination to work hard in school began.”

Student at computer
Jayden Furney works on a desktop computer in Mr. Steve Wuthrich’s business class. (Photo by Jackson Teal)

For Furney school didn’t have the start some would hope to have. His freshman and sophomore years he struggled keeping his grades up.

“I did okay with normal schoolwork but when it came to finals week, my grades paid the price of me not putting in my full effort,” Furney said.

He said he changed his mindset last year to set himself up for success in the future. 

He believes the hard work he is putting in this year for finals will make a huge difference.

This new mindset has turned him into a college-bound student.

English teacher Ms. Amanda Craw has been a part of his growth in the classroom.

“I know he was behind in his earlier years on his reading and writing, but I would say he’s turned into one of the strongest writers in my class and will be able to continue that in college,” Ms. Craw said. “He’s willing to work hard, has good attendance, and participates well in whatever’s happening in class.”

Before, Furney always believed he would go to college for basketball.

Four years can change a lot.

He now plans to attend Ivy Tech to set himself up for a future as an electrician.

***

The exposure to new experiences in high school may trigger comebacks.

Going into high school James Baker, a senior at Delta, always saw himself entering the military.

However, he still came into Mr. Kurt Griffis’s eighth grade shop class willing to learn and work hard. 

As high school began he gradually began taking more and more “trade” classes and fell in love with hands-on work eventually finding his calling in engineering.

Baker now spends around half his school day in various construction, fabrication, and welding classes.

“I want reliable skills in tough situations that I can fall back on,” Baker said.

He wasn’t always full speed ahead in the idea of his future being involved in the workforce.

Before he always saw himself entering the military.

However, he still came into Mr. Kurt Griffis’s eighth grade shop class willing to learn and work hard. 

As high school continued he gradually began taking more and more “trade” classes and ended up finding his calling in engineering.

“Mr. Curry’s class is really when that fire lit inside me to make this my passion,” Baker said.

Mr. Ronald Curry has had Baker since freshman year and has been able to watch him grow.

“Now, any concept or mechanism you throw in front of that kid, I have confidence he’s going to grasp it and be able to do it well,” Curry said.

Tool man
James Baker works on a project in Mr. Ron Curry’s class. (Photo by Jackson Teal)

Engineering stuck out as a feasible option to him because he believes there will always be a need for it and it pays well.

“James has a bright future in engineering.” Curry said. “ He’s a problem solver, and if something happens he won’t give up. He will persevere and find a solution.”

Another trait that will fuel his future in the workforce is the passion and drive he has in his trade.

He plans to knock out his required classes at Ball State and then continue his engineering education at Purdue University, the fourth-ranked engineering school in the nation.

After Baker graduates college he is undecided what he wants to pursue in the engineering field.

“I just really want to get as much hands-on experience and create as many interesting projects that can better myself and maybe even the world,” Baker said.

***

A comeback separated from the rest.

Instead of it happening in the classrooms it happened on the gridiron. 

Since Ryder Turner has been little he’s always been an athlete playing many different sports, but one stuck out to him more than the rest.

“Football was always like my first love,” Turner said. “I was obsessed with it and put my all into it every chance I got.”

After 10-plus seasons of work and dedication he had become the people he had watched under the lights when he was younger.

A varsity Delta Football player.

However It wasn’t exactly the warm welcoming he had expected.

“It was a very rude awakening having to guard extremely athletic receivers and not being strong enough to get off blocks,” Turner said. “I simply was not able to keep up with the high pace the higher level brought on…and I was getting destroyed constantly.”

Turner decided to make a big change that would later define his football career.

Over the grueling “dog days” of summer between his sophomore and junior season,  Turner wasn’t like many other kids these days, who sit inside in the air conditioning playing video games and eating potato chips. 

He decided he was going to be different.

“I didn’t want to just be on the team going through the motions not doing my best, so I decided I was going to turn something I loved into something I could be great at,” Turner said.

He had one main obstacle setting him back.

His strength and size wasn’t where they needed to be.

Over summer break he lifted every day, while still making sure there was time for adequate rest to let the muscles recover.

Along with the lifting came eating cleaner making sure to raise his protein intake.

The hours he put in on the field and in the weight room paid off big for him.

Putting on 25 pounds of muscle, he filled out his 185-pound frame.

Along with the muscle growth came a large confidence boost.

“In practice I felt more comfortable going at it with my teammates and not holding back,” Turner said. “Those practices on the hot field is what truly shaped me going into junior and senior season.”

Although he saw major improvement in practice he still hadn’t played in a game with his new size.

When his junior season rolled around he did not disappoint, having what head coach Chris Overholt described as a “breakout season.”

Although Ryder’s junior season had a mediocre ending with a first-round exit to Yorktown it only prepared him and his teammates for what was to come.

Going into his final season at Delta there was a lot of excitement following him and the promising senior class, along with their chances in the postseason.

Despite their red-hot start Turner was battling an injury throughout with a torn flexor tendon in his right ring finger that wasn’t able to bend at all. He had a decision to make whether he was going to play through his injury or get a surgery that would ultimately end his season.

Football player running
Ryder Turner (9) runs on to the field with a special cast to protect his injured finger. (Photo Provided)

“After my surgeon thought on it he decided he could make a special cast to protect my finger and allow me to get the surgery and miss only two out of our 13 games,” Turner said.

Turner persevered through the injuries and did his job in the sectional championship.

That young kid is a sectional champ on his last ride.

May 14, 2024

About Author

Jackson Teal

jacksonteal Jackson Teal is a freshman at Delta High School. This is his first year in journalism. Jackson wrestles and likes hanging out with his friends. His dream college is Notre Dame.


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