Editorâ??s note: Throughout the local high school sports season, Culpeper Times will recognize an â??Athlete of the Weekâ? from one of the sports. This week we are featuring field hockey. At the end of the year, the Times will select a male and female athlete at both Culpeper County and Eastern View high schools and recognize them as â??Athlete of the Yearâ? at their respective schools.
Powered by last weekâ??s 33-6 victory over Fluvanna, the Culpeper Blue Devils football team led by senior quarterback Hunter Crim, appears to be poised for a successful season. Crim threw four touchdown passes against the Flucos secondary, including three strikes to his most prolific target Eli Marks.
Throughout his high school athletic career Crim has been a three-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball. He has felt the joy of victories and the pain of lossesâ??one could say heâ??s battle-tested.
In seconds he nearly lost the joy of competing in sports. Last winter, Crim faced the daunting prospect of losing the upper part of his right index finger to a hydraulic wood splitter.
He elected to undergo an amputation rather than a series of more extensive and potentially complicated surgeries. With the help of a strong will, support from family, coaches and teammates he has largely overcome the unfortunate injury.
His resilience and recovery have been remarkable. One month after his accident Crim returned to the basketball court. First, he found his shot. Then he contributed to a number of victories. In the spring, Crim returned to play baseball and earned all-conference honors as a first baseman for the second-straight year.
â??Iâ??m still slinging it, it didnâ??t slow me down,â? explained Crim. â??It was slow at first when I started playing basketball again my muscles were weakened. A month after the surgery against Manassas I took my jersey and I wasnâ??t sure if Coach Thompson was going to play me. In the warm-up I sank a three-pointer and I thoughtâ?¦I can do this. Before that I had even tried shooting with my other hand. However, when I strengthened my arm with physical therapy the shots started to fall.â?
In the spring, he returned to baseball there he quickly regained form as a pitcher and infielder.
â??My shorter finger actually gave me a few inches on my curve ball,â? Crim added with a smile. â??I think it actually helped me there.â?
During the summer, Crim turned his attention to football. In his sophomore and junior years Crim had shared time at quarterback with Jeremy Robson, who graduated last spring. Crim only had a pair of starts last season and just five career starts before this season.
â??Itâ??s different this year, not having to compete with Jeremy. I like how the coaches and team depend on me now,â? said Crim. â??Iâ??ve worked hard with my coaches to improve my footwork. I think thatâ??s been my greatest area of improvement.â?
This year he possesses the keys to the offense. The Blue Devils at 2-1 stand at a crossroads as they host Fauquier this Friday night for homecoming. Upcoming games against Liberty and Eastern View will certainly test the Blue Devils.
â??All teams have weak points, weâ??re no different, â??said Crim. â??I really think we can compete with all our opponents this year. I have lots of confidence in my teammates.â?
An old football coach once said, â??Blessed are the playmakers.â?
Crim is confident that the Blue Devils have a few playmakers in its receiving corps.
â??I was more comfortable with the offense last week. We are practicing hard and we are making each other better,â? he said. â??Eli, well heâ??s a playmaker and every time he touches the ball he wants to score. Iâ??m so glad heâ??s on my team,â? he added.
Off the field, Crim is focusing on academics and he is hopeful that college plans will emerge over the course of the year.
â??Iâ??m just going to do the best I can and see what kind of opportunities come up,â? said Crim.
The source of Crimâ??s optimism and will to compete can be directly traced to the support from his family.
â??My parents and my brothers have always been there for me in good times and bad,â? said Crim. â??Because of themâ?¦ Iâ??ve always felt that I can accomplish anything.â?
Marshall Conner is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org