So Close

My school, Upper Arlington, has won over 100 state titles.  In basketball, we only have one. It happens to be our school’s first state championship back in 1937.  This year, we had 8 players on our team who grew up and lived within a mile of each other.  Most of us had been playing together since 3rd grade.  We were always good, from all the way back then. It carried through to middle school, where we only lost two games in two years. And most of us were still playing as this year unfolded. Were we destined to win this year?  The amount of time and effort we put in.  The obstacles we had to overcome.  26 victories in a row. March 22, 2014, the state title game at the Schottenstein Center on Ohio State’s campus. Up 3 over St. Ed’s with 4.7 seconds to go. Then they hit a miracle shot to tie. At the buzzer. Forced overtime and beat us. So, so close. My goal had been to make it to the State Final Four.  I had missed the entire recruiting season during my summer heading into senior year due to my hip injury and I knew the only way for me to get back on somebody’s radar and to get people to see me was to make it to states.  We did.  My team, and I  personally, achieved more than anyone thought we would.  Those of us who played felt differently,  though.  We knew from a young age that we could compete with anybody, and it showed this year.  We battled and fought, and won and won and won, until the end. We just ended up one shot short.  It wasn’t meant to be.  I didn’t cry after that game.  I knew I had done everything in my power to get to that spot.  From where I was almost a year ago, not being able to walk after hip surgery or even shoot because of my thumb surgery,  to where I was  that game, well,  I knew I had done something special.  My tears came later from the thought that I wouldn’t play another game with the people I had grown up with.  We were a team that faced adversity and overcame it.  That shot will always haunt us but we’ll know there is nothing to be ashamed of in how we lost.  I guess we should have fouled before they could shoot, to put them on the free throw line.  We left the game up to fate.  In the end the ball went in and we lost in overtime.  But, you know, we all left it all on the floor, and that’s what I’m proud of. We were a great team. The scoreboard can’t change that.

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27 thoughts on “So Close

  1. Man I loved this entire piece! I could definitely relate to some of emotions you were feeling after having gone through a serious back injury and mono that kept me out last season. It’s a tough hole to climb out of. But reading this and remembering the rigorous process of this season, and your endevours leading up to this season, made me realize how fortunate I was to have had you as a teammate. This piece is a reflection of how great of a leader you truly are, even when things may not be going your way. Without a doubt, the experiences and memories from this season will be ones I’ll never forget. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I’m glad you were there every step of the way to lead us all up the mountain.

    • I didn’t know what to expect when I visited this website. To my surprise, it was much more detailed and full of passion than I pictured. Knowing you since third grade, I’ve come to know that you’re not the most visibly emotional person out there, and neither am I. I think that’s why we’ve always got along so well. This basketball season has been truly amazing and something I won’t ever forget for as long as I live. I still remember the awful feeling of not being able to play last year due to my torn ACL. It’s weird how its been you and me who’ve had to overcome such serious setbacks. Both of us had always been hardworking and positive. We’d always been good teammates and good people. The setback seemed unconquerable at first and I too was depressed. However, I realized that a setback is just that, a setback! There was still hope for me to return and play the two sports I love more than anything. I stopped questioning why and began to immerse myself in rehab. I wasn’t planning on coming back the same. I was planning on coming back better. Eventually, I did recover. Around the same time, you were diagnosed with your hip injury. I saw you go through an even more grueling rehab than I did. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. All I had to do was wake up early one morning and drive about 15 minutes to have my surgery. You went out to Colorado about 3 to 4 times! As the summer went along there was no doubt in my mind you’d be ready for basketball. I still remember talking about winning a state championship last summer as you were on crutches and I was still barely recovered from knee surgery. Others in this community may be amazed at what we accomplished this year, but we’ve known all along. Our goal this year was to win states and while that didn’t necessarily happen, I wouldn’t change anything about this season. We accomplished every single one of our goals, fate just took a turn on us. To say I’m thankful to play with my best friend since third grade all the way up to the Division 1 state championship is an understatement. This year has been everything we’ve ever dreamed of and more. The things that make it so special aren’t necessarily the championships and the tournament run, but rather the times in the locker room after practice, or the road trip to Missouri. The group of guys I got to play with this year is what made this season special. Everyone brought something special to this team. You’re recovery from what seemed to be an athletic career’s death sentence to State Finalist will always give me hope in times of darkness. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.

  2. Great work across the whole site! Really captured the moment and the way you put it into words was superb! Having you as a brother was surreal this year and reading this was like reliving the moment. Awesome work bro!

    • Continuing… You’ve been such an inspiration to everyone and especially me. You have been my hero from day one and I couldn’t wait to see the look on peoples faces when you succeeded. I had very few doubts from day one and I knew your determination, heart and courage would get you through. It’s so great to see you fully healthy and happy again!

  3. God’s greatest blessings sometimes come in the strangest ways.
    Overcoming the pain, the doubters, and the depression have definitely made you stronger. You were tested physically, mentally, and spiritually and you aced the test.

    It has always been fun watching you play basketball. However, I am more impressed with reading about the insights you have gained along the way. These lessons will last a lifetime and help you overcome whatever challenges lay ahead. I look forward to your future success on and off the court.

  4. Danny, this is truly an inspirational story that shows how a team and an individual deal with challenges. Even in the face of difficulties, both physically and mentally, you managed to overcome these struggles, which truly depicts you as an individual. Most people would give up under the same cirmustances, but your love for the game and your fans kept you going. Your ability to overcome the many obstacles that life dealt you has made you a stronger individual, proving your capability of a bright future. I couldn’t be more proud of your accomplishments this year.

  5. You definitely serve as an inspiration for anyone who knows you, Dan. Calling you a friend and watching you fight to the finish is something I will never forget. I remember helping you with your stretches and excercises last summer and then watching you play half a year later and to have a season that will go down in history is so motivational to me. It was an awesome ride and I’m so happy I was able to be there every step of the way for you and the rest of the boys.

  6. I am in the exact situation as you were in. I began feeling pain and an irritating weakness in my hips when I was about 10. I was told by the doctors just to play through it but that didn’t work. I went back into the doctor about 2 years later and was told I had stress fractures in my hips. I was out for 3 months and missed a trip to Florida with my soccer team. I healed from those stress fractures, but still my hips didn’t feel right. Just a few months ago I felt the most excruciating pain in my hips again and could barely run. I was told again I had more stress fractures in my hips and then some had moved to my groin. I had to play through the injury with only 3 games left in the season. These 3 games were the most important games for me from a recruiting stand point. I played well in the first two games but the pain kept building. The third and final game rolled around and I got subbed out early barely being able to move. I took a break after the season for 4 months and nothing healed. I went through physical therapy and that didn’t work either. Just about a month ago, late march I went to Nashville to get my hips further examined. I got cortisone shots in my hips to put down the inflammation, and they are feeling better but once these shots wear off I’m getting surgery, once I’m done growing. It’s been an irritating process not being able to do what I love most, play soccer. Hopefully I can heal and come back as strong as you did.

  7. It was a great joy to witness the remarkable season you had this year,. It literally kept getting better and better as the weeks and months unfolded. Congratulations on all your accomplishments both on and off the court!

  8. I understand the frustration, anger, sadness, and disconnection of being an injured athlete. I’ve been there and I’ve done that, repeatedly. And although I didn’t require surgery, they were injuries nonetheless. The way you held yourself throughout the entire process is unbelievable. It’s hard to find the balance between a healthy recovery while at the same time retaining strength for future competition. Based off of your senior season, and the history you and your teammates made, you clearly found the perfect balance. It seems as though you treated your injuries and recoveries as a sort of gift. The process has helped you grow and evolve, on and off the court. Incredible pursuit to carry on your passion! It was awesome being able to call myself a bear while watching you all this season!

  9. What a great real-time story! This is just the first chapter in an exciting saga. You’re not just a winner. You have an overcomer spirit. Keep your mental/emotional balance and keep giving back. The best will come back to you! Thanks for your team spirit and excellent sportsmanship. God be with you!

  10. I got to witness firsthand your performance in the Ohio high school final four this year. What a privilege to watch you play, especially knowing all you had been through. I will never forgot the excitement and pride of watching you and your teammates represent my alma mater so well. Even the ending of the game did nothing to dampen the extraordinary impact you have made. You are an inspiration!

  11. I am so happy you took the time to journal your personal journey. It is an entirely different perspective reading this through your eyes versus our interactions with your parents. You have physically and mentally accomplished a great deal this past year and it will be a pleasure to see how your life unfolds. Best of luck and continued success.

  12. Before this past season, I had heard a lot about Danny Hummer. How he could completely control games with his style of play, and how he was one of the top guards in Columbus. After getting to coach him and be around him for a year, I can now say that I’ve witnessed something incredible. I’m lucky enough to still be working with Danny now, helping him to build his strength and explosion back up in order to help him achieve his goal of playing Division I basketball. I was shocked when he first came in to train a few weeks ago, because of how much stronger his hips could become through training. The fact that he was able to play an entire season, especially at the level he ended up playing at, is truly unbelievable. The stuff you saw Danny do on the floor may have made him look like he was healthy. However, he was not. He was fighting through pain, soreness, and weakness on a daily basis. But Danny would never let you know that. He was a “quiet killer” on and off the floor. He always did what he needed to do. He was a true leader by example. I have only coached high school basketball for four years, but I know that I’ll never meet another player as tough and determined as Danny Hummer. It has truly been an honor to work with you this past year, Danny, and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes you. Mark my words, you will see Danny Hummer’s “quiet killing” at the next level.

  13. This is quite an inspirational journey Danny. Although I didn’t go through the same injury as you, I completely understand what this process is like and how difficult is truly is for someone who has a deep passion for the sport they play. Last March I suffered from an injury that changed my life in so many ways. I grew up playing soccer from a young age and had the desire to continue playing the sport at a collegiate level. Everything changed when I tore my left ACL, my medial meniscus, my lateral meniscus, as well as a sprain in my MCL and PCL. The timing could not have been any worse because Junior year was the year when all colleges looked at their potential prospects and was a crucial season to be a part of. Because of this injury I was not able to play my senior year and was mentally, physically, and emotionally the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. I completely understand how tough the rehabilitation process is and to this day, 13 months later, I am still trying to get back to 100%. I truly value the motivation you had and the desire to get healthy in order to be a part of such a tremendous season for the UA Men’s Basketball program. The fact that you were able to balance all of the pressure you had in order to get back to the team as well as rehabilitating correctly is tough and I am so impressed how much you were able to overcome. With my injury I was able to learn so many new things and found ways to guide my focus in a positive direction to become healthy again and I can only imagine how much you have learned as well. Overcoming a serious injury is a hard task to carry out but you didn’t let that stop you in any way, shape, or form. I remember seeing you days after surgery doing your physical therapy and getting back on the right track and that impressed me. You never let anyone tell you you “can’t”. I wasn’t even able to get started that quickly with as much motivation as you, but that just goes to show how mentally and physically strong you are. It was an honor to see you come back and play your senior season and serve as a key player this year. Your journey is definitely one to remember and can be inspirational to so many young athletes.

  14. Danny, you and your teammates are so impressive, on and off the court. Be proud of all you’ve accomplished. We are! Thank you for sharing your observations about your FAI journey and the state tournament experience. Insightful and well done!

  15. Wow, Danny! I found your journey from self-doubt to triumph compelling. You proved that all of the soul searching, nerve calming, physical pain and rehab in between were well worth all that you had to endure. It shows great maturity that you are able to credit your family, doctors, and teammates with their part in the attainment of your ultimate goal. You will look back on this experience someday with the full understanding of how it has changed you. Thank you for candor, and for taking the risk of putting yourself “out there” through this journal. You’ve made for yourself a very bright future. Congrats!

  16. Your story is an inspiration to many who battle with “giving up”. Your basketball season is more impressive now understanding what you have overcome to play in a State Championship and very enjoyable to watch.
    “You’ve set yourself a difficult task. You will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that you make to obtain something wonderful is ever lost.”
    -Helen Keller-

  17. Danny, reading this brought back a lot of memories for me. Last fall I was diagnosed with an impingement in my hip joint and a tear in my labrum. As you know, a little over a year ago I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to have the same hip surgery as you did. I had a lot of the same feelings that you had and I agree that regaining strength after this surgery was a very long, painful, and frustrating process. When my doctor told me that I probably would not be able to play lacrosse or cheer anymore, I was devastated and filled with doubt. No high school student wants to hear that they may never be able play their favorite sport again. But just like you, I went through with the surgery and hoped that the doctor’s warnings would not pertain to me. After hours of physical therapy every day, I slowly started regaining my strength and I was finally able to walk and then run again. Not many people our age have major surgeries like this so it isn’t very often that I can relate my situation to someone else’s. But your story is truly an inspiration to me. I have been in your shoes so I know how painful and frustrating it must have been for you. But I was so impressed that you were able to recover so quickly and come back to an incredible senior basketball season. I still have some days that my hip does not feel 100%, but your story gives me a lot of hope because even after your surgeries, I have seen you accomplish incredible things.

  18. Growing up you were a competitor. You were a kid that would not settle for anything but winning. Growing up playing sports with you and against you made me a better athlete. You pushed me to be my best, and for that I thank you. No matter the sport, basketball, baseball, football or just messing around being kids you never gave up. No matter the circumstance, winning, losing or tired you would continue to push your self and the others around you. I have always looked up to you as a friend and a teammate and reading your story only confirms the fact that you still continue to push yourself to be the best. No matter the circumstance you always find a way to come out on top. Danny, this story is a true inspiration to me as well as many others. Going forward and on to bigger and better things, when I get tired and discureged on days where I don’t want to get out of bed I can think back to a friend from my childhood who taught me more than just winning and losing. I can now think back to a kid who defies all odds, to a kid who doesn’t take no for an answer, I can think back to what you have gone through and let that be my inspiration. You have done amazing things over the corse of our friendship and I can only imagine what the future has in store for you. Thank you again for being the inspiration you have been and still finding a way to push myself and the others around you to be all that we can be!

  19. I so enjoyed your interesting and insightful thoughts and feelings dealing with your condition, injuries, surgeries and recovery. It is evident that you have learned so much and have come out with more than just repaired hips. Your story and thoughts are very inspirational. Congratulations on such a historical and memorable basketball season. You have a great attitude about the championship game. No matter what the score was, you have come out a champion!

  20. It has been a joy to watch you and this group of teammates play these past few years. To say that there have been some exciting games is an understatement.
    To see what you had to overcome is very inspiring and you have set an amazing example for other athletes out there. Determination goes a long way and you proved that.
    Good luck at the next level!!

  21. Danny – Congrats on an outstanding bball career at UAHS! It has been a true joy to watch you play over the past two seasons, and witness your extraordinary gifts. You dazzled and amazed us with many of your moves! You have been blessed in many ways, and you have taken your athletic gifts and coupled them with passion and grit to develop into the person you are today. In addition to your athletic talent and skill, you have been a teammate that inspires and lifts everyone around you. You are the consummate team-player and demonstrate integrity both on and off the court. This is not the end…. it is another beginning. We are confident that you will make your mark on the world!

  22. Danny – Congrats on an outstanding bball career at UAHS! It has been a joy to watch you play. You treated us all to some amazing moves which seem to come so naturally for you. Even so, we know how hard you worked in the gym to develop your game. Your passion for the game is obvious, as are your talents, and your personal grit. More than that, you have always been a team-player: you lift and inspire those around you, and have always demonstrated personal integrity both on and off the court. This is not the end….. it is another beginning. We are confident you will make your mark on the world. Wishing you the best, always.

  23. The journey you’ve been through these last 18 months will serve you well in the future. You’ve overcome so much and through this blog you’ve clearly realized to never give up and what it takes to persevere. The UA boys basketball team gave the community so much this season – you could feel the spirit that makes UA a great place to call home. Congrats and best wishes to you.

  24. Danny, congrats on everything, I couldn’t be any more proud of my high school alma mater. You truly brought a whole community together. You are a true inspiration to everyone in UA and this community couldn’t be any more blessed to have someone like you come through a high school like UAHS. As coach Valvano says, “Dont give up…..Don’t ever give up.” Danny you sure as heck never did. You are a true champion and I wish you the best in your future goals. Go Bears!!!

  25. Danny, I hope that anyone who finds themselves in your shoes, finds this blog. It will undoubtedly give them inspiration. Best of luck to you, and thanks for sharing.

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