Seven foot Stevens
Towering over most students and teachers in the Clarke Central High School hallways, CCHS senior Gary Stevens has played basketball since his seventh grade at Clarke Middle School.
Teachers and students around the school notice Stevens’ optimistic personality as soon as he walks into a room, but to others Stevens is the extremely tall senior on the varsity basketball team.
“I think about the first time I met Gary and the thing that I remember about him most is his big smile that just fills up the room wherever he is,” special education department chair Marie Yuran said.
Through working with Stevens, Yuran has noticed the change in attitude Stevens has had about his school work. She has watched him get closer and closer to graduation over the time she has worked with him.
“He’s just a great kid (who’s) interested in knowing what’s going on in his life,” Yuran said. “(Gary wants) to make sure he gets to what his ultimate goals are, like going on to college.”
Stevens is motivated to do well in all of his classes in order to graduate and move on to college. He tries to succeed at multiple things other than basketball.
After finishing his last season of basketball, Stevens would like to try and participate on the CCHS Soccer team as the goalie. Until then, Gary plans on improving his basketball skills.
The now 6’6” Stevens played for the CMS Owls that year, but took a year off for eighth grade. He picked the game back up during his freshman year at CCHS.
His decision to try out that year was influenced by CCHS athletic department teacher and the boys head basketball coach Billy Wade. “When I was in his gym class, Coach Wade told me to come play (basketball for the team,)” Stevens said. “I wasn’t going to play my freshman year, then I saw the opportunity (and it) made me inspired to play.”
Starting freshman year, Stevens did not know what to expect about the basketball program at CCHS.
“When I got to high school, I didn't know the criteria of (high school) basketball,” Stevens said. “There are things in high school that they don’t teach you in middle school.”
Gary quickly became accustom to playing and practicing with the CCHS JV basketball team and making friends as he went along.
“Me and Gary met through JV basketball together, (during) my 9th grade year and his 10th grade year,” Ellison said. “We first became teammates then we became friends.”
Teammates on the basketball team joke around with each other while making their team stronger. Many times Stevens is found on the wrong side of the playful banter.
“Everyone on the team is like a family; we all treat each other like brothers on the team,” CCHS Junior Jahkiem Ellison said. “But Gary is the big brother out of the family so we tease him a little extra more than everyone else.”
The team jokes about things that they encounter on and off of the court, sharing their everyday experiences amongst this close group of friends.
“We joke about anything really, anything that might be funny,” Ellison said. “That’s why our team chemistry is so (great.)”
Stevens believes that communication is a large component of being part of the group of people he practices with on a daily basis.
Stevens is inspired by many people on his team, but is especially inspired by CCHS junior Cameron Johnson. He considers Johnson to be a significant team leader.
“He just leads the team because he tells us where to go if the coach (isn’t) there,” Stevens said. “He’s not the captain, but he should be.”
According to Stevens the most memorable game he has played is the