Although he has played in only one game for the Westerville Central High School boys basketball team the last two seasons, senior Nick Fields never has wavered in his support for the program or his teammates.
A shooting guard who was expected to provide scoring from the perimeter, Fields has suffered consecutive season-ending ACL injuries to his right knee.
His faith drives him to make the best of the situation and he has remained part of the team, attending practices and games, offering support to teammates and keeping statistics.
"I'm really strong with my faith, that's the biggest thing," Fields said. "My faith is what gets me through everything. I know that something is bigger waiting for me than the game of basketball. I love the game, it's one of my favorite things to do, but I have a lot of bigger things. ... I love to live life and I know it's going to be better for me in the end."
His dedication has impressed coach Donovon Barrett.
"He's very unique in the sense that I don't think a lot of kids would be as involved as he is with not one but two season-ending knee injuries two years in a row," Barrett said.
Fields, who split time between varsity and junior varsity as a sophomore, suffered the first injury during the opener last season against Groveport. Fields said he was going up for a potential game-winning shot late in regulation when he landed on an opponent's foot.
"I knew something was wrong (because) I felt it pop, and I actually also dislocated my kneecap," Fields said.
With Fields offering support from the bench after scoring nine points, Central went on to win 70-68 in triple overtime.
Fields underwent surgery and rehabilitation and said he entered the preseason at full strength. However, his dreams of contributing this winter ended on the first day of open gym in September when he stepped on a teammate's foot.
"It healed fine the first time. It was just a freak accident," Fields said. "It could have happened to anybody."
Barrett said Fields would have played a major role the last two seasons because of his shooting ability.
"There's no question he would have been a major part just because of his skill set," Barrett said.
Before suffering the injuries, Fields had hoped to play in college, but now he will concentrate on academics. He has a 4.0 GPA, scored a 32 out of 36 on his ACT, is a member of the National Honor Society and has started taking college courses at Ohio State.
Also, the injuries and ensuing rehabilitation stints have motivated Fields to pursue a career in orthopedics.
Central improved to 10-2 overall with a 67-41 win at Thomas Worthington on Jan. 15. Solomon Wells scored 16 points, Josh McDaniel had 15 and Thomas Hickman added 13.
The Warhawks lost to visiting Westerville South 59-45 on Jan. 13. They were outscored 12-2 in the third quarter and trailed by as many as 17 points in the fourth as they fell to 3-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division and saw their seven-game winning streak end.
McDaniel led Central with 12 points, followed by Hickman and Wells with 11 apiece.
"I'm not disappointed with our effort, but I'm disappointed that we had several guys not play up to their capabilities and give (South) credit," Barrett said. "We know what they're going to do and we didn't really respond well to it."
Hickman scored 17 points and Chaz Dixon added 12 in a 50-36 win over visiting Big Walnut on Jan. 9.
"It's really hard to watch because I know we need scoring and that's where I came in and assist a little bit," Fields said. "It's my game to shoot the ball."
Girls basketball team prepares for rematch
The girls basketball team enters its game against visiting Westerville North on Friday, Jan. 19, looking for a regular-season sweep.
The Warhawks defeated the Warriors 43-34 on Dec. 8.
Central was 10-2 overall before playing Licking Heights on Jan. 16 and is 3-2 in the OCC-Buckeye.
The Warhawks lost to visiting South 55-44 on Jan. 13 as Brianna Smith scored 15 points and Casey George added 11.
Central won at Big Walnut 42-39 on Jan. 9 as Najayah Shepherd scored 12 points.
Girls swim team wins area meet
The girls swimming and diving team scored 376 points to win the 10-team Central Ohio Splash meet Jan. 13 at Thomas, ahead of runner-up Dublin Scioto (307).
Finishing first were Annie McNenny in the 100-yard butterfly (1 minute, 0.84 of a second) and 500 freestyle (5:22.85), Macey Swearingen in the 200 free (1:59.78) and 100 backstroke (1:00.74), Kaila Aaron in the 50 free (25.42), Chloe Minton in diving (337.8), Swearingen, D'Nisa Oocumma, McNenny and Makayla Sampson in the 200 medley relay (1:56.63) and Aaron, Sophie Antonetz, Oocumma and Sampson in the 200 free relay (1:47.21).
Diving was held at Westerville Community Center.
"The girls team is in a good place, setting up nicely to have a good championship-meet run," coach Ron Staab said. "(We're) hoping to get a few athletes on the podium."
The boys finished third (273) of 12 teams behind champion Scioto (340) as Kaden Jacob was second in diving (242.85).
"Our boys team is shaping up as well," Staab said. "The dual-meet season has allowed us to find out exactly where each of our new team members fits best in the event lineup to make the greatest contribution overall. As coaches, we are very pleased with our progress this year."
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 19 -- Home vs. Westerville North. The Warhawks lost to the Warriors 51-48 on Dec. 8.
Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
*Jan. 19 -- Home vs. Westerville North. The Warhawks defeated the Warriors 43-34 on Dec. 8.
Jan. 23 -- At Pickerington North
*Jan. 19 -- Gahanna at Columbus Square Bowling Palace
Jan. 20 -- Pirate Challenge Tournament at Poelking Lanes in Dayton
*Jan. 18 -- At Olentangy
Jan. 20 -- Panther Invitational at Pickerington North