With the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year, it is time to announce our final two athletes of the week: Kailyn Lorberter (softball) and Johnny Gonzalez (baseball). Both athletes recently concluded their seasons, helping their teams advance to the CIF Quarterfinals and the CIF 2nd Round, respectively.
Lorberter recently wrapped up her senior season, which also marks her fourth year on the Varsity Softball team. She has been a leader on and off the field, and her competitive spirit will be sorely missed by the Bears. As Lorberter reminisces on her four years in the program, she becomes visibly emotional, clinging to composure as she attempts to answer difficult questions with strength and poise. Lorberter asserts that the 2019 team was “one of the closest teams” she has been a part of. Their relationships were tight-knit, and they fostered fantastic chemistry on the field. Lorberter was incredibly proud to be a part of this team that surprised everyone with an astonishing playoff run, all the way to the CIF Quarterfinals. Lorberter’s memories extend well beyond her senior season. From her freshmen year, she has been forging strong relationships. She affectionately recounts the seniors who took her under their wings when she was one of only two freshmen on the varsity team. As she got older, she relished the opportunities to do the same thing for the new, incoming players. She looked forward to fostering relationships and bringing everyone together–ensuring that there were not cliques within the team. Lorberter was also a tremendous leader when her team faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. During her senior season, she found that the team often fell victim to self-doubt and self-sabotage. They often got down on themselves, and she admits that she was frequently too hard on herself. Lorberter had to set an example for her teammates, and collectively they learned to keep their heads up and never give up on themselves. At the end of such a phenomenal career, it is nearly impossible to articulate everything that Lorberter will miss. Most prominent in her mind is simply distance. She is headed to Bucknell University (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania) in order to continue her athletic and academic pursuits. She is keenly aware of just how far away she will be, and she is going to miss being so close to all of her family and friends. Moving so far away is daunting, and she is sad to leave behind all of the friendships that she has forged over the last four years. In spite of her trepidation, she has lofty goals for herself. As an athlete, she wants to continue to get stronger on the playing field. As an academic, she plans to study biology in an effort to familiarize herself with the content area and pursue a career in forensics. Before moving forward, Lorberter spent a little more time reflecting on her past four years. For Lorberter, her time on the field provided invaluable experience. She played so many different positions during her tenure, so she was able to experience everything from different perspectives. Lorberter was able to get a different sense for what everyone was looking at and how everyone was feeling because she could see everything from varied angles. This clearly exemplifies her versatility and her leadership capabilities. She puts those leadership skills to work one more time as she advises younger Bears not to be so hard on themselves. “Stick together; remembers it’s a team sport. You can’t always blame everything on yourself.” Most importantly, she reminds every up-and-coming athlete to “have fun! It’s just a game!”
Speaking of fun, our male athlete of the week–Johnny Gonzalez–is just that! He is a captivating and charismatic junior on the Varsity Baseball team. He is passionate about his team and his sport, and he could easily articulate just how much the program means to him in a way that would capture the heart and spirit of anyone who had the pleasure of listening to him speak. Gonzalez recently concluded his third season with the Varsity Baseball team, and he can proudly say that this was his most productive season thus far. He was named the team MVP, while earning the best on-base percentage, the most times on the base, the best batting average, and the most hits! For Gonzalez, these individual accolades pale in comparison to the team accomplishments. This particular team had the most chemistry. It has been the same group of guys that have played together since freshmen year. They always hang out, on and off the field. Gonzalez fondly asserts, “We don’t feel like a team; we feel like a family!” Gonzalez has incredible memories with these teammates. Although it might seem odd, Gonzalez affirms that a lot of their bonding time happened during their field work. The team has fun with the guys who are out there. “You get to know every single guy in and out; I knew everything about everybody. There wasn’t a single guy I didn’t talk to.” That brotherhood proved to be at its strongest when Gonzalez suffered a severe injury that left him hospitalized for a few days as he awaited recovery sans surgery. His teammates–his brothers–were with him every day and through every evening. At the helm of that unwavering support and unconditional love was Head Coach, Scott Pearson, who Gonzalez considers a father-figure. The moment Gonzalez was released from the hospital, where was he found? Where else? The Warren baseball field, supporting his brothers as they entered into their CIF 2nd round game. For Gonzalez, everything in the Bears’ program has been team-oriented. It has created a phenomenal atmosphere and an unadulterated love for playing with such a great group of guys. Although the chemistry on the field was completely unforced, Gonzalez has had to force his way through some other struggles–predominately his performance in the classroom. Gonzalez admits that he lacked motivation in the classroom. He “always put baseball over everything.” Thankfully, as he aged, he matured, and he realized the importance of taking care of business in the classroom. Gonzalez also had to overcome a lot of self-doubt and stigmatization. As a freshman, he was repeatedly told that he was “too skinny and too small.” He was told that he “would never play Division 1 baseball.” During these difficult moments, Gonzalez always had one steadfast bedrock of support and encouragement–Coach Pearson. The constant reassurances from Coach Pearson that he was better than he gave himself credit for and that he would receive opportunities convinced Gonzalez that he had something worth fighting for. Gonzalez attributes so much of his development to Coach Pearson and the lessons that he has learned on the field that transcend the sport of baseball. He is more prepared for the real world because of the lessons he has learned through Coach Pearson. He is disciplined, polite, respectful, compassionate, and family-oriented because of baseball. It’s not just the lessons learned that go well beyond the field, it’s also the bonds forged that go beyond baseball. Gonzalez will miss all of the seniors who recently graduated with the class or 2019. He has been playing with all of them since a young age, some as young as age 5 or 6. Thankfully, he sincerely believes that these relationships will stay strong well beyond high school. He cannot think too far beyond high school yet though because there are still some ambitious aspirations to accomplish in his senior season, namely Gonzalez wants to win a league and a CIF championship. He is confident he can still make this happen in his senior season, He and his teammates have learned to “play for one another.” For Gonzalez, that’s a change. When he was younger, he used to play for himself. He never used to be team-oriented. Since Warren, he always plays for his teammates. He will do whatever it takes to contribute to his team. As he approaches his senior season, he is prepared to be a leader for the team. He would advice underclassmen to “have fun!” “Life’s too short to be wasting time being miserable; it goes to quickly, so enjoy it!” Gonzalez is definitely one worth watching as he goes into his senior season. He knows that Warren Baseball is underrated. He sincerely believes that the Bears’ coaching staff is a group of the greatest baseball minds. The facilities are remarkable–the clubhouse, the field. “There isn’t a time that I haven’t enjoyed myself in this program.” Maybe next year that joy will culminate in the elusive CIF Championship.
Congratulations, again, to our final 2018-2019 Athletes of the Week–Kailyn Lorberter and Johnny Gonzalez.