Editor’s Note: This is part two of a four-part series discussing the accomplishments and future plans of Southeast District Athletic Board scholarship winners Alek Blevins, Cole Gilliland, T.J. Hoggard, and Nathan Riehl. Blevins was discussed in the first part of the series and Riehl will be featured here in the second part.
For most people involved in the world of sports, the hope is that the student-athletes under their school’s umbrella have fun and play hard throughout the duration of their high school careers.
However, another important quality that can be overlooked — especially in the heat of the battles in the games themselves — is how sports builds the very characteristics that allow student-athletes to excel in the workplace.
As a three-sport athlete and an academic standout at Valley, Nathan Riehl looks to be well on his way to doing just that. The recently graduated senior, who played football and basketball and was a member of the Indians’ track and field unit during his athletic career with Valley, obtained a $500 scholarship from the Southeast Ohio District Athletic Board due to his work in both areas.
For Riehl, obtaining a scholarship beside the likes of Alek Blevins, Cole Gilliland, and T.J. Hoggard is something that he won’t soon forget.
“It was a great experience,” Riehl said. “I felt very, very accomplished. It was quite an achievement in my book. I felt very humbled and honored to be put in that group with them. I respect what they did, both on and off of the field of play.”
Over the course of his high school career at Valley, Riehl, who was a consistent contributor on the gridiron, the court, and the track, maintained a consistent average that hovered around the 4.0 GPA range. Riehl’s excellence in academics and his dedication to athletics was dovetailed by an eight day trip to Bowling Green, Ohio, where the senior, along with fellow Valley classmates Zach Martin, Brett Hill, Monte Thayer, Caleb Wagner, and Chase Wagner, participated in the American Legion Buckeye Boys State program, which teaches participants about the “democratic form of government at the city, county, and state level, the organization of political parties, and the relationship of one to the other in shaping Ohio governments,” according to the program’s official website.
These accomplishments, unsurprisingly, made Riehl the ideal candidate for Valley’s Wendy’s High School Heisman Award, which was awarded to Riehl (the male winner) and Bre Gahm (the female winner) for their accomplishments as “high-achieving seniors who participate in a wide range of sports, excel in the classroom, and contribute in their communities with service and leadership.”
Even with all of those accolades, however, it wasn’t all roses for Riehl. The 2016 football campaign was certainly evidence of that fact as Valley, who went 64-10 from 2010-2015, lost their first nine games of the 2016 season after being hit hard with graduation losses. During those first nine games, Valley was outscored by a margin of 369-79.
However, even though adversity, Riehl found a shining light in the struggles that the season provided for the Indians camp.
“It wasn’t the easiest season, especially with the kind of seasons that we’ve had in the past,” Riehl said. “However, the 2016 season taught me that you can’t give up and hang up the uniform, even when things are going bad. You’ve got to keep going out every night and playing to the best of your ability, no matter how the season is going.”
That mindset paid off in the final week of the season, when Valley played Minford in the annual Battle for Lucasville-Minford Road rivalry affair. The Indians, knowing that their playoff hopes had long since gone by the wayside, used the meaning of the game itself to end the season on a high note as Valley stunned the Falcons by taking home a 17-7 victory in Riehl’s final game as a high school football athlete. The offensive and defensive lineman took home All-SOC II accolades for his work on both ends of the spectrum during the 2016 campaign, and after participating on the basketball squad, threw a personal best mark of 129 feet, eight inches in the discus in the Division III Southeast District Meet in Chillicothe to qualify for regional competition.
“We wrapped it up (against Minford) with a victory, and that was a great moment for not only the seniors, but everybody on the team,” Riehl said. “It was pretty special. “As far as the SOC II team honors are concerned, that was also pretty special. That was the first time that I’ve received any first team or second team accolades, and that was nice for me. That was one of my goals coming into high school, to be either First-Team or Second-Team All-SOC II.”
Even though Riehl graduated from Valley earlier this year, the former three-sport standout has certainly kept his busy schedule intact. As of now, Riehl is working at Gahm’s Car and Truck Parts, where he weed eats and washes trucks, among other miscellaneous tasks, because he begins his college journey at Wright State later this month. At Wright State, Riehl will be pursuing a career in accounting.
“It’s teaching me the same thing that sports did,” Riehl said of his part-time job. “No matter how hard things get, you’ve still got to show up everyday, work hard, and be on time every day. I believe that it’s going to help me on down the road. As for Wright State, I was very happy to be able to be accepted there. It’s a great school, and I’m really excited to be going there. The accounting program is very strong. They have a lot of accolades that attracted me towards that field, and that’s one of the main reasons that I wanted to go into it.”
Riehl, however, knows that sports are a big reason why he has the opportunities that he has today — because of what each sport has taught him as he goes forward in life.
“I’ve always thought that sports taught you more than just how to be an athlete,” Riehl said. “I believe that it teaches you how to work with people and how to deal with people that you might not agree with all of the time. It also teaches you that you need to work hard in everything that you do. Like me, I played three sports for three years of my high school career, and from experience, I know that each of them taught me how to be accountable and to show up for practice every day. You can’t be late. I prided myself in not being late, showing up, and doing what I’m supposed to do. Those traits are going to help me a lot in my life, especially when I’m applying and interviewing for full-time jobs and when I obtain a full-time position of my own. I really believe that sports are a big part of growing up and becoming a hardworking member of society.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7