By Mark Morrow — HSE Royals Sports Media
It took a young man who wants to be an Eagle Scout to make a difference!
It took someone with a plan to do something extra special for his high school and his community.
It took a young man with vision. Hamilton Southeastern junior cross-country team member Eric Carothers is that young man.
And though he’s yet to win a race this season wearing his school colors, what he has done for the program deserves a victory lap lap for him, one with all the cheers and fanfare a winner would receive.
He basically beautified the school’s cross-country course and gave it a little more character. And it should — and will — be admired for years to come.
“I hope to get that win on this course next season. I’ve finished in the top 15 or 20 a few times this season, but not a winner….yet,’’ he said, adding a relaxed grin. “Yeah, winning here on the course would be cool.’’
But there are no more varsity cross-country races at HSE this season. The next race for the Royals is Saturday’s HCC Meet in Noblesville, followed by the sectional on Oct. 7.
What Eric Carothers has accomplished is like a diamond in the rough; a masterpiece, something that anyone who’s ever run cross-country or has coached the sport or has been a spectator should appreciate.
Eric planted 13 ash trees along the course to provide shade for athletes and spectators down the right side of the starting line. He placed 13 (poles) along the other side of the course, recognizing 13 girls/boys cross-country student-athletes who have earned All-State honors at HSE over the past 50 years.
He also left some room to add more poles that could extend to close to the finish line. The other trees on the right side close to the road are fully grown maple trees and already provide some shelter from the sun and heat.
“I want to come back in 10 or 20 years and see how the trees and course has matured, how the trees have matured.
“My teammates, and other runners really like this, too. “They like the change to the course, and, like me, they are excited to see how it all matures in the years to come.’’
Carothers, also a member of the HSE student athletic council, said he wanted to do something that he loves to do in his next step to becoming an Eagle Scout. That, he said, is combining Boy Scouts and running.
“I went to the school AD and to my coach and asked if there was anything I could do on the course. They came up with the idea.
“I want to thank my family and friends and my teammates. They helped see me through this and all helped me plant the trees.
“But Eric did the work. What a remarkable job,’’ said his coach Joe Golden, who couldn’t be prouder of the of the task Eric has undertaken and completed.
“What a tremendous idea and effort by Eric to get this done. This is a great thing, a wonderful accomplishment and a tribute to our community,’’ said HSE co-athletic director Greg Habegger.
“Eric raised a little more than $1,000 through the “gofundme’’ program. He said his family, his scout troop and extended family helped him raise a little over $3,000 altogether.
Eric, a member of Boy Scout Troop 199 in Fishers, said his brother Brad is an Eagle Scout. “Now, I want to chase him down and hopefully I’ll have my Eagle (badge) by the end of this year. I’m almost there after this.’’
Golden was asked if he could put all of this in perspective.
“Oh yeah, this is quite a big deal for all of us,’’ he said, breaking out in a big smile. “There are a lot of possibilities here. “This is special and will continue to be. What Eric has done is just the start. It’s easy to now visualize just how nice they can be for all of us.
“Our coaches and I plan on planting 70 more trees we’re purchasing. We hope to extend the course around a wooded area on the back on the course, too. With all of the activity we have here on a daily basis, the grass is beat down and this gives us a much better running path. Our goal is to add some finishing touches and hopefully somewhere down the road, we’ll be able land a big event, maybe even a regional.’’
What’s next for Eric after his senior year in 2018?
He said he hasn’t made any college plans yet. “But,’’ he added, confidently, “I want to try and run in college, and study something in sciences; maybe, like get a meteorology degree and add running to it.’’
But for now Eric, it’s time to take a bow, then take that victory lap. You’ve certainly earned it. Maybe one day your name will be on one of those poles, too. Who knows?
At least, I would think that maybe a plaque recognizing your accomplishments to the course should one day be somewhere around the finish line.
What a visionary! Such a creative and innovative young man!
*—Mark Morrow, who has resided in Fishers since 1989, formerly owned Hamilton County Sports Daily. He was inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters-Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame in 2015. He has blogged exclusively for hseroyalsathletics.com since 2016.