Then Jr. Nolan Eccker sprints up the court, weaving in and out of VR Tech players and spinning around their big guy. He finishes off the glass with his left hand, putting the Anchor basketball team up by two to start the Lakeshore Honors League championship. These two points were only two of Eccker’s 18 that night. The Anchor basketball team ended up losing the championship, but they only disappointed the 20 fans in the Holland East Middle School gym. Even Eccker said “It was the biggest moment of my basketball career, yet it was kind of a let down because of the number of fans that were cheering.”
The Anchor basketball team is composed of former basketball players who have realized that making the West Ottawa basketball team may not be possible based on the time and commitment necessary. However, Eccker thought different about his chances of making the West Ottawa Varsity team. Eccker led his team last season as a junior, averaging 12.1 points per game. The Anchor basketball team ended up 10-2 with a Lakeshore Honors League Championship. Despite his success last season, his talent would not have been enough to make the varsity team. Eccker knew this and decided to put the work in to be part of a successful season after watching the varsity team last year. Eccker said, “I really needed to work on improving my outside shot and my ability to finish inside.”
Standing at 6’4, Eccker realized his potential if he can improve multiple parts of his game. Since the varsity team has many talented guards, Eccker understands he will be needed more as a bigger, inside-type player than a small and quick guard. To achieve this, Eccker had to put in lots of work throughout the summer and fall. Anchor coach Nate Dewitt said, “Nolan has been a long time visitor of the Anchor youth building. Most weeks he is in here multiple times… Nolan obviously has athletic abilities and he’s willing to put the time and effort in to develop them to a point of success.”
Just from last year, Dewitt found that Eccker was a hard worker and was willing to put the time and effort in to improve his skills. Eccker showed his time and effort by putting in around 12 hours a week in the gym improving his game. “I usually get in the gym around 2-3 hours a day, 5 days a week,” Eccker said. Throughout the summer Eccker has proved his dedication and willingness to do what it takes to get to the next level. Also, throughout the fall, Eccker has worked on improving his strength and jumping abilities along with working on basketball. So not only was Eccker improving his basketball skills, but he is also improving his overall athleticism.
Many kids feel that once they fall below average or get cut from a team that there is not much chance of coming back. Even though coaches always say “you can always try out next year,” not many athletes usually take up that offer. They realize they do not have much of a chance. However, Eccker is a prime example of how it is still possible to work hard enough to make it back to the top level of basketball.
Several of Eccker’s teammates are excited for Eccker and what he has been able to do in the offseason to improve his skills. They are looking forward to this upcoming season where the Panthers hope to be very successful. For example, Jr. point guard Nick Wehrmeyer said “I’m very excited to see what Nolan will be able to do this year, he worked hard all offseason and it will be cool to see how that hard work pays off.”