This week’s TS athlete of the week is Colby VanDecker. He has been selected because of his self-determination and the impact he has on others. Colby has been an offensive juggernaut for the Vikings in 2019, with over 1,200 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, along with being a KVAC qualifying skier. However, Colby’s strongest asset may be his ability to refocus on the next moment on the road to self-improvement. We asked him about his high school career and the success he has brought Oxford Hills.
TS: How does it feel to be selected as the TS player of the week?
CV: It feels good to be recognized for the hard work I’ve put in this season and everything leading up to now.
TS: At TS, we use the circle of courage, where you won the independence award. It represents an acceptance of self-driven destiny. What have you taken away from the circle of courage?
CV: The circle of courage applies to every aspect of not only football and other team sports, but life in general. To me it’s a balance between how I fit in with the team and how I control my own actions. These values shape and direct me in a path to become a great person and achieve great things.
TS: Have you had any major injuries that have set you back? If so, how did it impact your performance? How did you overcome your injury and get back in the grind?
CV: I broke my foot during football sophomore year, which put me out for the last few games of the season and I wasn’t able to really do anything on it until mid winter. My biggest concern was if I was going to be able to get into a ski boot for the upcoming race season. I had a late start but was able to race that year. It was hard at first getting into things late and with no trust or strength in my leg. I continued to train at TS and actually ended up making the Maine Team and going on to race in the Eastern High School Championship, which took place in New Hampshire.
TS: Coach Wall takes the football seniors on an annual hike to Mount Bigelow, what was that experience like for you? How do you think it set the tone for the seniors, knowing this is their last season?
CV: The senior hike was something that will stick with me forever. Our senior class has a close bond and the hike strengthened that bond. There were so many laughs and memories from the trip that made it impossible to forget. It was the definition of long suffering, but my teammates and I were helping each other through it. I think that going into the season, our senior class had the same mentality as on the mountain, which is to always push ourselves and our teammates forward even when the going gets rough.
TS: What will you miss the most about not training at TS anymore?
CV: I’m going to miss the team challenges that we did. They definitely weren’t easy but the competition and drive to keep working is something I don’t get anywhere else. I think these fun challenges helped make our team much closer to each other.
TS: What are the benefits of having an older brother, who was a running back and skier just like you?
CV: I have always looked up to my brother growing up and still do now. Seeing him run the ball or win a ski race motivated me to do everything I could to take his place and live up to the name. He set the bar high with his achievements which encouraged me to work as hard as I can and never give up.
TS: Having some setbacks the past two years, how have they motivated you to finish your senior year strong?
CV: I wanted to prove to myself and my team that I can overcome setbacks and put them behind me. I’m only looking forward and trying to be the best I can be.
TS: It was looking like you would be on the road for playoffs, but you boys have worked hard and earned a home playoff game, how does that set your mentality going into Friday night?
CV: To play at home surrounded by great fans in a place we are comfortable just makes us feel good and motivates us to play for the guy next to us and the people in the stands. For us seniors it was looking like we’d never play there again but we have another chance to walk down that road and go to work. I believe we will make it count.
TS: How would you like to be remembered in the Oxford Hills community?
CV: All I want to be remembered by the community is I was someone who worked hard at being an athlete and being a good student, friend and leader. I had some setbacks but I’m still finishing my career with great accomplishments.