A chat with a high school athlete preparing for a fall sports season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Today, Rantoul football player COLIN WILKERSON, who will be a senior next season.

What are you most looking forward to about this upcoming football season?

Colin Wilkerson June 10

COLIN WILKERSON

What I’m looking forward to most is being a captain. I got voted on by some of my teammates and coaches to be one of the seven captains we have this year. Just kind of helping the younger freshmen and sophomores and hopefully getting them ready to play some football, even if I don’t get my senior season — just to be a leader to them, and showing them that it’s bigger than just playing the sport. Football’s helped me in a lot of different areas — character, et cetera.

Do you have any concerns about summer contact days currently being suspended?

It worries me a little bit, just because, especially in Illinois, we’re being a little more precautious about different things. I’m kind of worried that our season might get canceled, and I’m worried about our team not being ready. But, then again, none of the other teams we play are going to have any extra time than us. But we are a fairly young team. We don’t have a lot of seniority, which is one thing I think we are going to struggle with a little bit. I’m concerned, but I wouldn’t say I’m freaking out about it.

What has it meant to you to represent Rantoul athletics as a football player?

It’s an opportunity to show people that Rantoul kind of gets a bad vibe sometimes. That we have a lot of talent and no character — that’s what I’ve heard from a lot of people. And I think me representing it and some of my teammates, I think it’s a great opportunity to show that we may not be the best team sometimes, but we’re willing to give it 100 percent and we’ll never quit. It’s been a really good experience getting to play four years, but a lot of things go into Rantoul football that people don’t see. Of course the death of Donnell Robertson (in 2018), that just hit our team hard. He was going to be our best player, best running back, who was friends to a lot of us. Just to have him gone like that, it’s hard and I don’t think people saw how much that really hurt our team. And then last year, Deandre Walker, going to be our best player again and our best running back, gets into a car crash — paralyzed for the rest of his life. I don’t think any other team around here has to go through stuff like that. Rantoul has a lot of diversity and a lot of struggles that people around don’t see or don’t go through.

Has the pandemic changed how you view getting the chance to play football?

It does. I play basketball and baseball as well, and my junior baseball season got taken away from me. We didn’t get to play a single game, only had a week or so of practice. I thought (the pandemic) was definitely going to be over by now. Now that they’re talking about it, we can’t have summer workouts (or) summer practices, may not even start school in the fall, it’s definitely the bigger picture of it. I always thought sports would be there, and now that the world’s in this pandemic and sports get taken away from us, it’s definitely a bigger picture of how to look at it.

clikas@news-gazette.com