COLUMBIA — “Try not to dilly-dally around with your interview. We have to get going soon,” Chase Freidel says to Dayton Hammes.
Hammes acknowledges her teammate on the Father Tolton Catholic High School girls basketball team with a smile. Freidel, Hammes and junior forward Lacey Stephen car pool to and from Tolton every day from Moberly. The trip lasts 45 minutes.
“For the first couple of weeks, that drive seemed like it took forever,” Stephen said before laughing. “Now that I have gotten used to it, it isn’t too bad.”
Depending on the day, the Tolton players leave Moberly to go to school between 6 and 6:30 a.m. Freidel said she isn’t a fan of getting up that early every school day.
“Waking up is probably the hardest part,” Freidel said. “I am definitely not a morning person.”
The Tolton girls and boys basketball teams switch practice times. On the days the players have early practice, Freidel, Hammes and Stephen will likely get home at 7:15 p.m. If they have late practice, they won’t get home until 9:15 p.m.
“I usually try to get as much homework done before practice and during homeroom as I can,” Hammes said. “If I am not doing homework in the car, I am usually sleeping.”
Each player has her reason to attend Tolton. Stephen felt like she wasn’t being challenged academically in Moberly. Hammes was considering the school, and her mother getting a job as a track and field coach there sealed the deal. Freidel had wanted to go to Tolton ever since she first heard about it.
No matter the reason, all agree that their attendance is worth a longer commute. One of the benefits is that they get to spend a whole lot of time with their team and each other.
“I really enjoy my teammates, and I have gotten really close to them,” Hammes said. “We are with each other for around 12 hours every school day.”
The players can have between two and five hours of homework when they get home. All three players spoke to the academic rigor that comes with Tolton. Stephen specifically was impressed.
“When I first got here I was like, ‘Woah, maybe I should go back to Moberly,’” Stephen said with a smile. “But I am very glad that I stayed.”
All three players have also had to balance keeping their Moberly friends with making new ones at Tolton.
“A lot of my friends have tried to connect with my friends at Tolton,” Hammes said. “They are really supportive of me going there, so that has been really helpful.”
No matter the obstacle, each player is set on overcoming it. The Tolton girls basketball team has its fair share of obstacles in its first varsity season. Stephen in the only junior and the rest of the team is composed of sophomores and freshmen. The Trailblazers are also undersized, but the players don’t seem worried.
“I feel like I have a little seniority power,” Stephen said with a laugh. “But this is a great group, and we are working together to try to get better.”
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.