Below are some of the Pursley family's favorite scholarship winning essays.
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2023
5 seconds. A quadruple overtime game against the longtime rivaled “X”ason Comets,
the Achilles heel of Lady Aves basketball since 2012, came down to 5 seconds. Up 69-67 in the
48th minute of the game. Hands sweaty. Heart beating out of my chest. Legs shaky. Voice shot.
Exhausted; yet, my shoes had not touched the court all night. As a freshman player still working
to earn her varsity minutes, I was taking my first breaths in the atmosphere of an electric gym.
And although it may seem like a minuscule amount of time, in those last 5 seconds when the
three-pointer went up to seal our victory and the roar of the crowd took over, I discovered a true
passion for a sport that I had only seen as a game and a newfound devotion to a family that I
had seen only as a team.
5 seconds. 5 players on a court. However, a team is much more than 5 individuals. Each
player, each coach, and each fan is a link. And, as the saying that every athlete will inevitably
hear goes, “each team is only as strong as its weakest link”. However, what I failed to realize
before beginning my high school athletic career is that being a “strong link” strays much farther
than simply being the leading scorer. Through my journey as a Sycamore athlete, I discovered
the significance of filling a role. Experiences riding the bench as a freshman taught me the
significance of working to reach my endeavors and influencing the momentum of the game from
out of the court’s bounds. Transforming into a starter role, I discovered all the duties on the court
that often go unseen but are crucial to success. This notion of the “little things”, the rebounds,
the hustle plays, the assists, etc., is one that Rob never failed to exhibit. Watching his highlight
reels, you will find a passionate young man who would sacrifice his entire body to save the ball.
Carrying his team to victory by being a key scorer, a selfless point guard, and an unrelenting
defender, Rob demonstrates perfectly what it means to fill the roles. The passion he displays
while playing the game that I have given over a decade of my life to is nothing short of
inspirational. Every role I filled as an Aviator, taught me invaluable lessons on how being a
“strong link” is undefinable and being a great teammate means devoting your game to your role.
4 seconds. At SHS, I was a part of 4 teams that each became to feel like family. Soccer was
the first team where relationships were promoted over competition. Rather than varsity and JV
team lines being harshly drawn, we were paired as big and little sisters. In these connections, I
found upperclassmen who served as my lasting role models on and off the field. Cross-country
promoted accountability and taught me how to continue to push myself and others through
adversity. During this season, I established valuable leadership skills in developing connections
between teammates in order to find the most effective ways to get through to each individual. In
lacrosse, tension has always been heightened. As a four-year starter of a state semifinalist
team, I faced conflicts with threatened teammates as an underclassman holding a spot on a
successful team. However, in overcoming these pressures, I developed experience in dissolving
tension within a team that experiences highly polarizing emotions in the face of a strict coaching
staff and high expectations. Unlike the other teams, my basketball team was always composed
of individuals everywhere on the racial and socioeconomic spectrum. This is where I have always found myself comfortable taking the lead. Reading about Rob’s legacy, I find myself in
him and aspire to impact people around me, from all walks of life, as he did. Never afraid to talk
to anyone willing to listen, I have become tight-knit with a group of individuals that I would have
predicted to be rare friends, much less consider them family. Sycamore athletics fostered my
ability to be a successful leader in a myriad of situations and led me to earn the title of senior
captain for both my senior sports teams.
3 seconds. The Ave Cave, the student section of Sycamore, is run by 3 spirit leaders. I have
had the privilege of being chosen as one during my senior year. As only the second female
leader in the history of the Ave Cave, I hold this title close to my heart. Although adhering
importance to Friday night football may seem trivial, I find my contributions to school spirit as
well as numerous events and meetings with administration to be significant in giving a
demographic of our school a more powerful voice. My relationship with past leaders developed
through athletics allowed me to obtain this position and will allow me to continue to be influential
in school policy that better represents our school as a whole.
2 seconds. Like Rob, I have 2 brothers. Kyle, Blake, and I are prime examples of what it means
to be a program kid. Starting from kindergarten, we three have participated in a seemingly
endless number of Sycamore sports teams. My parents have headed our youth organizations
and coached for many years, always connecting my family through Sycamore athletics. The
endless support my family has given me through sports is something that I will forever cherish.
With my parents approaching their final opportunities to watch me play, I empathize with the
Pursleys and all Parents of Murdered Children who would give anything to see their child play
one more game.
1 second. 1 moment is all it takes for someone’s life to be forever altered. 1 night walking into a
restaurant that I’ve passed numerous times myself and 1 man who should have been locked
away already took such a kind, accomplished, and wonderful soul from this world. The homicide
of Rob is a tragic and horrific event that I wish no family ever has to face. The system put in
place to protect our loved ones failed Rob and that is unforgiving. His light will forever shine in
our community as we follow in his intentional and admirable footsteps every day. In less than 5
seconds, the lives of so many were changed forever. His legacy deserves to be acknowledged
with the amount of love and respect that he showed so many in his lifetime.
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2022
A dogfight. A job. A war. Two hours of intense focus, sweaty shirts, and bloodstained practice jerseys. Once you step on the court, the familiar faces surrounding you are no longer your friends. From 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., the brotherhood that exists between you and your teammates is strained, pulled, twisted. That sense of family is still there but in between the lines it manifests itself in the form of tough love. Unforgiving elbows, agonizing knee-to-knee collisions, and infuriating trash-talk motivates the guy next to you to bring out his best. Ultimately, the only way that any one of us gets better is by going 100% at each other. The whistle blows and like a pack of trained dogs, we all proceed to the baseline. The war has begun.
When describing this “war” that is Sycamore basketball, I think of two words: brotherhood and family. Our team is a support system that allows us all to achieve one goal and that is to win. And when I say win, I don’t just mean on the court. If someone needs help for an upcoming Pre-Calculus test, my house is open for tutoring Monday through Friday. If one of our guys is having problems at home or is mentally struggling, everyone sends a text to check in on them or will go find them at school the next day. Whether it's academics, personal problems, or mental distress, everyone is looking out for the guy beside them. Open gyms, practices, lifting sessions, team days, and team meals are bonding sessions that are all meant for the betterment of our team, both on and off the court. Day after day, it’s just you interacting with the guys, building trust and confidence in one another so that when the time comes to put on a show in front of the Ave Cave, we are in sync.
After reading the story of Rob Pursley and hearing many stories about him from both my father and Mr. Pursley, it has been made clear to me that Rob was truly someone special who embraced his teammates in whatever way he could. Rob was the “type of basketball teammate that would do whatever it took to help the team… and the type of teammate that was more like a brother to me.” After reading that statement, I saw a lot of myself in Rob even though I never got the chance to meet him. Starting this year in our basketball program, we had a “Team Day” on the day after Thanksgiving where each one of us gave our “why.” In other words, “why do we play?” What is one thing that is bigger than basketball to each of us, so that when I step on the floor with my brothers I not only know exactly what I’m playing for but my teammates as well. When it was my turn to speak, I looked at all of my teammates around the room and told them plain and simple “I’m playing for my guys, whether it’s on the court or off it.” Additionally, I looked over and pointed at my brother Bryce, a kid that worked his butt off all summer and then suddenly had his junior season ripped away from him after a foot surgery, and told everyone “I’m also playing for that guy right there. He was in the gym day-in and day-out working his tail off and I’m gonna bring the same energy he would bring every game.” To me, being a great teammate is more than just finding an open guy in the corner for a three or having a cool handshake for when they introduce the starting lineup. Being a great teammate is someone who’s going to lay it all on the line for the competitive, goofy guys around you that you have the privilege of spending two hours with everyday after school. It’s that mentality if you hurt one of ours and you better be ready to get into a street fight with twelve other guys. Our sense of brotherhood, silliness, and competitiveness is what ties us together as a family and that's what I try to embrace every time I’m with my brothers.
"Shoot thinking every shot is going to go in; if it doesn't, shoot the next one." Throughout my life, basketball has been a source of enlightenment. It pushes me out of my comfort zone and requires a tremendous amount of work and practice to achieve success in the sport, just like anything else in life. The game, for me, is about playing past my point of exhaustion, heading directly to the point when I think to myself: I want to quit. My hard work to achieve my best in basketball is paramount to strengthening my mentality when I face varying difficulties in life. My strong work ethic, positive mind-set, “short term memory” and unselfishness are attributed to this sport. Day after day, these are the qualities I try to pass on to my teammates when we face adversity on and off the court. Whether it’s a turnover in a game or one of my brothers is facing troubles at home or in school, we all need to have his back not only as a team, but also as a family.
By supporting my teammates and friends, I gain an understanding for the differences of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Being a “good teammate” to others is not only a lesson that is vital to the success of an athletic team but it is a value that I believe is imperative to make a more positive and tolerant world.
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2021
Sports are so much more than just winning and losing. The type of person and
teammate one is to each other means so much more, especially when it comes to your
character years into the future. I love to win and hate to lose, but at the end of the day
my relationships with my teammates, coaches, and anybody else involved means even
more to me. Without a doubt, I’ve become a better person over my last four years at
Sycamore High School. I care deeply about those around me, and I become
discouraged when I let someone down. For me, I’m not in the best stage mentally at
times. Like most, I hide it from others and make everything seem like there are no issues
in my life. There’s a much deeper story behind the smiling, competitive spirit I live with
everyday. I understand that there could be friends or teammates that go through these
same events everyday. Because of this, I do what I can to make others smile and enjoy
I know that ten years from now I won’t remember losing to a team by just four points and
coming so close to victory. I’ll think back on each season as a whole and remember the
relationships I made throughout each season. For example, one of the recipients of the
Rob Pursley Scholarship last year was Cort Kramer. Cort is a year older than me and
played basketball and baseball. At first, I didn’t know what to think of him as a teammate
or person. After playing in a Sycamore Aves uniform together for three years and
standing by each others’ sides through anything that came our way, we’ve become great
friends and are still in contact with each other while he’s at college. We’ve introduced
each other to many activities and situations in our lives and know we can count on each
other through any situation. Cort is a prime example of a person I’d never have any
relations to if it weren’t for sports. On my end, I always think about the fun times we’ve
had off the court more than on the court, and I know he does as well.
From the aspect of a teammate, my coaches have always viewed me as a great leader.
I’ve always been the guy to keep my mouth shut and just play while leading by example.
In addition to this, I’ve also grown to become a vocal leader and pick guys up throughout
a practice or game. What’s the big deal with this? Well, it all leads back to the character
aspect of things. This experience of leadership will surely come around in the future, and
I can already see parts of my life that display my leadership quality. One thing that
always comes to mind is the fact that I need to stick out in a group. Other than the bright
red hair I possess, being a leader has made me able to stick out. I’m no longer afraid to
speak my mind and face disturbances head on. There’s a great deal of confidence and
pride one earns through leadership. Others begin to trust you and respect your lack of
fear. Above all, this means more to me as a person than a teammate. Playing a sport
only lasts for so long, but being a friend and how you treat others will shadow your figure
for your entire life.
As a kid, I’ve always dreamed of playing college basketball. I loved to play the sport, and
it got more serious as I grew older. Division 1 is always the one thing on a kid’s mind as we
aren’t too familiar with the smaller schools. Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, and UCLA are among
those schools that are on a child’s mind. Once I hit the summer before freshman year, I
understood that those types of schools wouldn’t be an option to play. I wasn’t good enough and I had to come to grips with that. Nevertheless, there were still a variety of colleges around the country that I could play at. Despite my injury and surgery this past September, I’ve been able to make a remarkable recovery in the doctor’s eyes and have returned to finish out my senior year. The next goal following this season is to find my way to a college to play basketball and to achieve a childhood dream.
Furthermore, this scholarship means much more to me than the money itself. The tragedy that occurred to Rob Pursley should be a situation that no human being should encounter. I’ve seen and read his plaque in the trophy case and have talked to guys like Mr. Randy Lothrop aboutRob. Lothrop became very emotional when I brought up his name, and that in itself told me how great of a guy Rob was and how important he was to this community. He lived life with a purpose, but his goal wasn’t to stand out in a sense to be a famous artist or become president.Rob just wanted to make others around him feel wanted and loved. There was no stranger to him and wanted to make his community a better place. Despite his passing, Rob is still helping his community and inspiring them everyday. If I were to play in college like Rob once did would be a grand achievement. Rob has given me hope that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.
Nothing comes easy in life, and facing anything head on with the right mentally can lead to
success in your own point of view. I thank my family and the Sycamore community for giving me opportunities I would never have believed. I’ve made some great friends and memories in recent years especially. I plan to make the most of my time left at Sycamore and will keep pursuing my dreams of basketball and beyond. There’s no doubt in my mind that I can accomplish what I want, and I will do it.
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2020
From the time I was four years old, I have loved playing team sports. I started playing baseball and basketball at the YMCA and soon started playing on local baseball teams and played basketball through the Sycamore Athletic Club. I played with and against many of my current teammates through the SAC organization, so by the time I was playing junior high basketball, we had already established a bond of athletic camaraderie. My goal was to always help our team win, whether that meant scrambling for a ball, grabbing the rebound or making a sneaky pass to someone who could score. It was never about scoring points for me. I always wanted to contribute to the team.
Being a great teammate means so much more than anything else you do in sports. Especially at the high school level, the memories you make playing a sport are going to be about the people who were with you. No one is going to remember how well someone played, what the score was, or someone’s statistics in a random game twenty, thirty, or even forty years later. What they will remember is that great teammate was always there for them, for better or worse. Being a great teammate is also about the things off the court/field. It can be as simple as just making sure they get to practice on time, but it is also the person who will come over and talk to you when it is needed. Ultimately, a teammate needs to be a good person and a great friend first. This doesn’t mean that you tell them what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. You have to be real and honest with them.
The importance of telling people how you feel is second to none. As in Rob’s life, bad things seem to happen to the best people. Rob seemed like the kind of person who you truly wanted to be around. So, to see someone who was such a good person and had done so much good for other people die so early, it reinforces the importance of sharing how you feel on a regular basis. You never know when you are going to see someone next. Whether they are traveling across the world or just going to the store to get a loaf of bread, a freak turn of events is always possible in the world in which we live. In my own life, I always make sure I tell my parents when I leave for school or the weekends that I love them, and if for some reason I can’t say it face to face, there is always a text to tell them. Both my parents, especially my mom, has always made it something that has to be done. It was always one of those things for her that took no effort and something that should be done no matter what. Life is short and as one of my coaches always reminds me, we are all listed day to day.
Being a Sycamore student-athlete is truly something special. Almost all of my friends are people with whom I have played sports with most of them students at Sycamore High School. There have been guys who played basketball with me in second grade that no longer play, but the bond we created during that time is still as strong. The 2018-19 Sycamore varsity basketball team is a perfect example. This team holds a special place in every single one of those player’s hearts as it was a unique group of athletes who enjoyed each other’s company on and off the court. It had nothing to do with wins or losses, but everything to do with being a team player. I have never been on such an incredible team that was so close in my life. That bond was created at Sycamore, from the countless workouts, team dinners and the summer road trips. Essentially, most of my friendships would not be what they are today without the opportunity that Sycamore athletics has given me, and I am forever thankful for that.
As a natural leader, I have always wanted to lead the teams on which I have been. This basketball season has not been any different. With a team of just two seniors, there is a lack of upper-classman leadership just in pure numbers. The need for leadership is at an all-time high with such a young, immature team. We have had countless classes and discussions about what it means for me to be a leader in the program as well as within the team. I have played with so many different types of individuals that I bring a collaborative perspective to the floor each time we play. I want them to succeed as much as I want to succeed which is the best combination a leader can have. I am ready for the challenge and look forward to how I can help the younger players grow into great teammates.
Earning this scholarship would be very beneficial for next year. As a hopeful NCAA division three college baseball player, college expenses will be high without a lot of opportunities to have a job. I am looking forward to being able to continue building relationships with new teammates and hopefully leading them at some point to great accomplishments. As I develop as both a person and an adult, I want to glean the best leadership and sportsmanship attributes of Rob Pursley and apply them in my own life.
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2019
First off, I would like to introduce myself, so you can better understand me as a person, student, and a basketball player. My name is Ben Yuskewich, I am a senior at Sycamore High School, a three year varsity starter and captain for the Aviator basketball team. I am the oldest child in a family of four, and was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. My priorities in life are as follows: 1) family, 2) education, 3) basketball. I’d like to share my story in each of these areas:
Family - In terms of what family means to me, it is everything. I am very fortunate to have two loving parents who routinely make sacrifices to support my sister and I, helping us grow and develop to our fullest potential. In addition, I have 3 grandparents, 5 sets of aunts and uncles, and 11 cousins all of whom live in Cincinnati. We get together regularly to celebrate holidays and support one another in our extracurricular activities. I also have a sister who is 2 years younger than me. We have a “normal” sibling relationship in that we argue and fight on occasion. But, my sister has special needs – she is autistic. While her disability makes some typical daily tasks more challenging, it has also strengthened our bond. Kendall looks to me for guidance, help, support and comfort; and I do everything I can to take care of her. Through our relationship, I’ve learned to appreciate the gifts I have and to have compassion for those less fortunate. Family always has been and always will be the most important priority in my life.
Education - I have always set big goals for myself – and I knew education was the key to achieving them. With clear focus and hard work, I have achieved at a high level in the classroom. I received a 35 on my ACT and currently have a 4.2 GPA. While those are just numbers, I feel they reflect the diligence with which I approach my education. I’ve challenged myself with a difficult schedule throughout high school with accelerated and AP courses (including 4 my senior year) to ready myself for success in college and beyond.
Basketball – Growing up, I enjoyed playing a variety of sports. But, basketball was always my passion. I fell in love with the game despite not being naturally gifted. Early on, I was always one of the smallest kids on the team, and objectively was also one of the least athletic. But, I loved competing and compensated for those disadvantages with tremendous energy and effort. It wasn’t until seventh grade that high energy and effort were no longer enough to make me competitive. I made the junior high team that year, but I rarely played in games. It was the first time in my life that trying my best wasn’t good enough. After that season, there was a part of me that wanted to quit. I rationalized that I wasn’t being treated fairly by the coach. Ultimately, I had to stop making excuses and hold myself accountable for my own success. I chose to focus all my energy on improvement, and committed myself to maximizing my potential. I did this knowing full well that I might fail. The following summer I dedicated my time to working hard for something that was important to me, and I loved it. Not only did I love the game of basketball, but I also fell in love with the process of improving myself. Initially, I focused on shooting and ball handling fundamentals. I researched training techniques, went to the gym every day, and tracked my progress. I set goals for myself and refused to leave the gym until I accomplished them. My commitment was fueled by a passion for the game and a continuous drive for success. By the time I made it to high school, I was a changed player. At tryouts, I wasn’t worried about making the team; I had my eyes set on bigger goals. I made the junior varsity team my freshman year and led the team in scoring. But I wasn’t satisfied. I set even higher goals for the following season and started rigorous off-season training immediately. As a sophomore, I made the varsity team and was the third leading scorer. Following that season, I sought critical feedback from coaches and took a hard look at opportunities to improve my game and take it to the next level. I spent the next off-season in the weight room, adding 30 pounds of muscle, while also increasing my speed, agility and jumping ability. My junior season, I was in the top ten in scoring in the GMC and named second team all-conference. Now in my senior season, I’m a team captain, and on pace to be one of the all-time leading scorers in school history. I cannot put into words all that Sycamore basketball has done for me. It has given me an outlet when things aren’t going well in life, it has given me great relationships with staff at the school, and it has also given me a group of brothers that will always be close to me. I believe that I have helped revive this program, through my hours of hard work and dedication. I also believe my class of seniors have laid the groundwork for the next generation of Sycamore basketball players, showing them what it’s like to be dedicated players and passionate leaders.
Future Plans – As I said before, I have always prioritized education as a means to achieving my goals. I have already been accepted into the universities of Indiana, Iowa, Miami (OH), and Ohio State. I am focused on larger schools with a wide range of academic offerings, as I haven’t yet determined what I’d like to major in. Regardless of major, I plan to pursue leadership opportunities on campus and take full advantage of the opportunities available – potentially studying abroad. I will to continue to bring my best effort in all that I do, and will make a difference at whatever university I end up attending.
In closing, I’d like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to apply for this scholarship. I appreciate your continued support of Sycamore student athletes. It is a tremendous legacy for Rob.
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2018
I appreciate this opportunity to apply for this scholarship- being a good teammate on and off the court is very important to me. My teammates are way more than just people I play basketball with. We have formed a bond much closer than that. These guys have put in the work in the off-season alongside me. We have all gotten up for 6 a.m. workouts together, and in my opinion, when you are all forced to do that you are forming a tight bond right there. It is important to be a great teammate on and off the court because your team needs to be able to trust you with things such as making the right play in a game, showing up to practice on time, or even keeping each other accountable in school. If you can’t trust the people on your team to be good teammates then you will never succeed in anything. Much more than that, teammates are also there to pick you up when things are not going your way, on or off the court. I have been picked up by my teammates many times and I have had to pick them up sometimes, that's just how it works. We look out for each other. I believe that's what a true teammate is: trustworthy, unselfish, dedicated, and someone who buys into the program.
It’s very important to always let others know how much they mean to you because you never know which time will be the last time you see them. No one knows when they are going to die so why take a chance. Tell the people around you really how much they mean to you, because if you don’t today you may not get the chance to tomorrow. There are so many people in this world that wish they just had one more day with their loved ones who have passed. Sometimes the opportunity to still talk to our loved ones can be taken for granted. My grandma passed away a couple years ago and I know every single person in our family wishes every day that they could talk to her again. It is very hard for us to know we won’t be able to. So never wait until the last second for these things because we never know when the last second will be. Take advantage of the time God has given us with our loved ones.
Sycamore Athletics has played a huge part in my life throughout high school. Being a part of Sycamore Athletics has given me some lifelong friendships. Over the years I have come very close to my teammates through all the work we have put into basketball together, the 6 a.m. workouts, the pasta parties, etc. So you could say we have been through a good amount together. Sycamore Athletics also taught me to be a better basketball player, but more importantly taught me to be a better man. In this off-season our team read the book “Above The Line” by Urban Meyer. This book taught us about having a positive attitude in everything we do on or off the court. It also taught us to be better leaders and role models for the people around us in our lives. Our coach taught us about being better men, make the right decisions and helping our teammates do the same. Sycamore Athletics also taught me to have more confidence in myself. Sometimes I can struggle believing in myself, and throughout the years my coaches and teammates have helped me to find that confidence that helps me be a better player. Without Sycamore Athletics I would be a completely different person then what I am today. I have tried to become more of a leader this year being my senior year. That has been hard for me because I am not the most outgoing, talkative person, but my coach has helped me find ways to be a leader without being the most vocal guy in the gym. Things like showing up to every off-season workout and pushing others to do the same, and not just show up but push myself and others to do the best we can do. Or other things like running every sprint in practice as hard as I can and pushing others to do that also. By doing this I have become a better teammate and leader, my teammates now trust me and want to do the same because they know I have put in all the work as well and I’m not just trying to push others to work when I am not doing anything.
I have not decided for sure if I am going to pursue playing basketball in college, but I am considering it- because I do love to play. If I were to get this scholarship it would do a lot for my family and I as far as allowing us to afford college giving me the chance to play. I have been accepted to Taylor University and I would possibly play there. They have already given out all of their athletic scholarships for this year's class in basketball, so if I decide to try out, my family and I would benefit from any financial help we can find.
After reading about Rob, he seemed like a very dedicated, passionate, and loving guy. These are qualities I wish to reflect in my own life. Thank you so much for the opportunity to apply for this scholarship. This would mean so much to me to be awarded this scholarship. At Taylor I want to study sports management and they would give me a great opportunity to get some internships and great experience in that field. This scholarship would be a huge step in the right direction for me to attend Taylor. Thank you for considering me for the Rob Pursley Scholarship, it would be an honor to be chosen.
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2017
When I think about what it means to be an Aviator, many things come to mind. In everyone else’s mind, what it means to be an Aviator depends on how many wins we account for or how well our stats compare to others. Although those accomplishments are important to one’s season at Sycamore High School, it is not what it means to be an Aviator. What it means to be Aviator in my mind is defined by three words: effort, enthusiasm, and family.
After reading the bio on how Rob Pursley affected those around him and how he treated his teammates, I was truly inspired. What specifically stood out to me was when the biography said that he was the type of teammate that was more like a brother rather than just a friend. Obviously Rob Pursley understood what it meant to be an Aviator. As a senior captain in all three of my varsity sports: football, basketball, and baseball, it was essential for me to understand and demonstrate those three words that I used in the paragraph above. Being the varsity quarterback, it is necessary that I be the team’s leader and be the best teammate possible to lead by example on how a true Aviator should act.
In football, effort is very key. Coach Dattillo always said, “When you have to coach your team in effort that is when you have the most problems.” In my mind, this is 110% true. Throughout my four years of varsity football, I have battled through numerous practices and been a part of over 30 varsity football games. In my freshmen, sophomore, and junior years we had successful teams, though none of those teams were as special as my senior year’s team.
The 2016 Sycamore Aves football team was the most savvy, hardworking, badass team that Sycamore has ever laid out onto Bud Acus Alumni Field. It wasn’t that we were more talented or we had an easier schedule than in prior years. It was the fact that each player understood what being an Aviator meant. At the beginning of the year, we started off with a disappointing 2-4 and the outlook on the season was decreasing with every loss.
After those six games had concluded, every single player understood we were under-performing and something needed to change. My fellow captains and I called a players only meeting and told the team that if our attitude towards practices, games, and each other did not change, that we would continue on this rough skid. The very next practice anyone could have seen the difference in the team. The amount of hustle I witnessed in practice was unlike any other type of practicing I experienced in my high school career. Sprints were run at full speed and drills were done with a much higher motor. My team and I were tired of being put down. In the next four games of the regular season, enthusiasm was at an all-time high. We were no longer celebrating big plays by ourselves but doing so with our entire team. My favorite part of those four games was that losing was not an option. The whole team came together and became a family. We pulled off three consecutive games leading up to the biggest game of the year and my life. Mason. During Mason week, nothing is the same. The school is buzzing, social media is full of trash talking and this game will determine if we could make the playoffs. Mason week is especially important to me because in the year prior, we had the chance to win the game in the concluding seconds and I was stopped short of the goal line by a half a yard. I have never felt so low. The fact that I could not come in clutch for my team tore my heart in two. After the game I told myself and my teammates that I refuse to lose to Mason on my final home game of my football career. Every Thursday after practice we have a team meeting. Once that meeting concludes, the coaches leave the room and “give the seniors the floor,” as Coach Dattillo says. It is tradition that at least one senior goes up to the podium and gives a speech to the entire team about the game the next day. Ever since I came to play football as a freshmen, I have dreamed about what I was going to talk about in that speech. Knowing this was the biggest game of the season so far, as the senior leader that I was, I needed to give a speech to let all of my teammates know what this game is all about. When the time came for me to get up in front of all my brothers there was only one thing I could say. “Tomorrow we play Mason for a berth into the division one Ohio state playoffs. With all of your brothers by your side, let’s go make a memory that you will never forget.” And that is exactly what we did. With a 17-0 victory on senior night, my team and I made a memory that I will never be able to forget. The defense allowed zero points in the second half and the offense delivered late in the fourth quarter on a reverse pass to seal the victory. After the final score ran off the clock I saw nothing but smiles and tears of joy. The ball that I took a knee with to end “The Battle of the Skies” is still in my possession and will soon be in a glass case to commemorate the memory that was made October 29, 2016.
I believe if Rob was still alive here today he would be proud of what the 2016 Sycamore Aves football team accomplished this year. Even after the regular season we continued on our hot steak and became the only Sycamore team in history to record two playoff wins in a single season, beating Lebanon and Mason for a second time. When outsiders look back on this record setting season they will remember the stats and records we achieved. But what all the players will remember are the memories that were made just by playing a sport we love with all of our brothers by each of our sides. Those memories are what I assume Rob wanted each and every Aviator to cherish once their journey through Sycamore athletics has ended.
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2016
You never know when the last time you will see someone you love. Scary situations can happen within seconds, and that can change a person's life forever. Just like your family was changed by a senseless act of violence, I remember the exact moment my life and my family's life changed. I was in a small room at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. It was the day I was diagnosed with a type of cancer, called Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a cancer of the white blood cells. Although it is a highly curable cancer, it was so scary at the time. I had never known about this type of cancer before, what is was, if it was curable. I just remember my hands start shaking, and freaking out right after the doctors had told me. Extremely swollen lymph nodes in my neck that didn't respond to antibiotics led me to Cincinnati Children's Hospital that cold November Day, three days before Thanksgiving. It seemed Surreal as I sat in the doctor's office with all of the weak bald headed kids around me. I will never forget the first person I saw. As I walked into the waiting room there was a girl, who looked to be around my age, the receptionist called her Skylar. She looked tired and fragile, just sitting there with an oxygen tank strapped to the back of her wheelchair. Her mom had dark circles under her eyes; it looked as if she hadn't slept for a few days. A few minutes later a bald, five year old boy came into the waiting room and sat down near my mom and me. I looked up at my mom and said I do not belong here, this isn't for me. I do not want to take time out of the doctor's day, when they could be spending more time with really sick kids. Little did I know that within two weeks, I would have had two surgeries and been admitted into the hospital for chemotherapy. Like Rob, I have always been extremely involved in sports. Swimming has always been my passion. I started swimming for the Sycamore Flying Fish at the age of eight. In Junior High I became part of Sycamore's swim team and have been on the High School Varsity Swim Team since my freshman year. I had always dreamed of Swimming in college. Unfortunately, cancer struck in my junior year. Junior year is typically the year college coaches start looking at you, and you start looking at colleges. Cancer gave me great perspective about what is important in life. Sometimes you have to take detours. I got back in the pool last April, the day after my last round of radiation. I love Swimming, and it will always be a part of my life. I have worked extremely hard since last spring. My times are almost where they were at the end of sophomore year. I am so proud of what I have accomplished...surviving cancer and not letting it get in the way of what I love. During Swim season my junior year, as I went through chemotherapy and radiation, I could have really gotten discouraged. Sometimes it seemed like life was passing me by. I underestimated the support of my Sycamore High School Swim Team. They turned out to be my major support system. Coach Dan Carl came and sat with my parents during surgery. He brought me a little angel to keep by my hospital bedside. My teammates visited me during my four hospital stays. They brought me silly things like play doh and coloring books to make me laugh. Once a group of them helped me sneak down to the cafeteria in the evening. We thought we would never get caught until we realized we had locked ourselves out of my wing on the 5th floor. My team sent me cards and gifts and came to my house to visit when my blood counts were high enough for visitors. The night before I went to the hospital for 3 nights of my second round of chemotherapy, I got a text telling me to look outside. I went to the front door and saw that my team had put luminaries along my driveway and sidewalk. I knew I had their love and support and it helped me get through a scary night. Not only did Sycamore show support, other swim teams in the Greater Miami Conference did as well. They made get well cards that the whole swim team signed. I remember Mason gave a teddy bear! People from other swim teams were trying to be good teammates and friends, and I felt the community was being brought closer together I will never forget how such a hard year turned out to be so rewarding. It was a good lesson for my friends and family. We never take one day for granted. Life is a gift, sometimes it is cut short, but we have to make the most out of each day. Now I know that I have the support of both my family and my Sycamore family. We all say a lot more “I love yous!” We know that something life changing can happen at any moment. Maybe this experience taught my teammates this lesson also? I am still trying to decide where to go to college, but like your Rob, I want to pursue a career in business.
When I read that he went to University of Cincinnati and got a degree in business, I realized how our lives had much in common. Rob set a good example for the Sycamore community. His loyalty, compassion and love of life live on in all of those whose lives his touched. I hope that he looked down from Heaven at me last winter and felt a sense of pride as he watched his fellow Aviators living by his example. Lifting a teammate up when they are down and helping all those around him feel joy is the legacy Rob left us. I hope one day to have inspired as many as Rob Pursley!
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2015
“Sometimes things have to go wrong in order to go right.” In sports, fighting through adversity is what makes a great player and subsequently a great team. Whether it is an injured teammate or a tough defeat, it is the response to these misfortunes that truly define one's character. That is what makes sports such a wonderful aspect of our lives: they teach us lessons that go far beyond the court or field. For Rob Pursley, sports simply allowed him to show his amazing character in another environment. To his peers outside of basketball, he was an enthusiastic and fun loving boy. His teammates would surely say the same thing. I like to believe I am comparable to Rob in this way as I strive to represent Sycamore sports in a similar way. Many people would overlook the description of enthusiastic, but it truly stands out to me. As a two sport athlete throughout high school, I know the difficulty of maintaining enthusiasm and energy throughout the entirety of the season, especially the long 22 game season of basketball. I once heard a quote, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This quote truly defines loyalty and trust in your teammates. For every season, the ultimate goal is to win a championship. Acting as a reminder, this quote reinforces the belief that being part of a team is special. Although I did not know Rob personally, I have heard of his legacy and he seemingly understood what being a great friend and teammate was all about. This year, I am proud to be named a captain of the men's varsity basketball team. This means more to me than going to half court and speaking with the refs before the game. Coach Moss defines captains as 'extended staff and I truly feel a new responsibility in becoming one. I wanted to make an effort to not only create a close knit team this year, but develop positive attitudes and good habits for the younger players on the team for next year. We currently have three freshmen on varsity, and as a captain I want to show these young players what being an Aviator teammate is all about. Therefore I make an effort to stand up and cheer even when on the bench, something I hope the others pick up on and develop for next year, because putting the team before yourself is an incredible attribute to learn. It pleases me to know such a respected man like Rob would be doing similar things for his teammates back when he played. In terms of commitment, I feel I have really dedicated myself to being an Aviator my whole life. Out of the four seniors on varsity this year, I am the only one to have played Sycamore basketball all the way through since select SAC basketball in fourth grade. To put it in greater perspective, out of 30 select basketball players in fourth grade, I am the only one still playing basketball for Sycamore. Coach Moss and I have talked about how special that is to him. This year is his sixth year as head coach at Sycamore, and each year before the season starts we have a "Green and Gold Program Night" where all the teams from seventh grade to varsity play. This year as I sat next to him and watched the young guys play, he turned to me and said how I am the only person to have been at all six of his program nights. No other player, no other coach has been to everyone except for me and Coach Moss. Therefore I feel as though I have a special commitment to this school and its basketball program. While I in no way can fully understand the adversity the Pursley family has endured, I do, in a lesser manner, know what it is like to fight through serious conditions. I have had two major surgeries in my high school career, both of which affected my athletic and academic life. As a freshman I discovered a hole in my heart called an Atrial Septal Defect or ASD. This subsequently led to me having a heart catherization on February 28, 2012. I decided to withhold this knowledge during my freshman season in order to still play. After my last game, I told Coach Ross that I was getting heart surgery in two weeks, and he confirmed that if he knew that he would have treated me much different. I was so happy with my decision, because it allowed me to play the game I love, without enduring unnecessary pity. Luckily the surgery went well and I am now 100% heart healthy. To this day I advocate for all athletes to participate in voluntary heart screenings because my screening may have saved my life. Furthermore, my junior year I underwent wrist surgery to repair a torn ligament that happened overtime from baseball. The ligament, described by my doctor, is like the "ACL of the wrist” and apparently was the most difficult procedure of the year for him. Needless to say it was a rather serious surgery and recovery process, and I subsequently missed the first half of basketball season because of it. Nonetheless through patience, hard work and dedication to get better, I successfully overcame both these surgeries and finally (for possibly the first time in my life) I am healthy. Being a Sycamore student and athlete is an honor and I feel fortunate for the opportunity to apply for the Rob Pursely Scholarship. I have always put equal time in my studies as I have on my game. My 3.85 GPA has earned me principal honors roll in school as well as All Academic GMC in basketball and baseball. Outside of sports, my purpose at school is to learn, but also to help others learn. I have been a lead peer mentor and advisor for three years and I look to continue this activity in college. My parents have always held me responsible for numerous things in life, and as I go to college next year I am financially responsible for my books and various expenditures. Receiving this scholarship would truly aid me financially. On top of that, it would be the highest of honors to represent Sycamore in similar ways Rob did with loyalty, enthusiasm, and athletic and academic achievements. I sincerely thank you for your consideration. Thank you!
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2014
First off, I just want to say I'm Sorry that your son had to have his life cut short by a man who had no positive connection to the world. Your son, Rob, sounds like the best friend anyone could ever ask for. I know how much people cherish and appreciate friendships, and your son had made so many great friendships throughout his life. Personally, I am all about enthusiasm, hard work, happiness, and most of all, family. I believe Rob and I share many similarities in sports, aspirations, and sharing joy. Rob Pursley is through my eyes, and I'm sure many others, a success. All of his accomplishments came from his determination and Commitment to excellence. Receiving any kind of business degree is not an easy task. When I saw the number of people who attended his visitation and the how long it lasted, I received a true understanding of how many lives Rob affected. For Rob to receive such a high compliment, he must have been a true leader and friend. Which leads me into what being a friend meant to Rob. People today really underestimate how much a friend means to them. In Rob's case, everyone was his friend. Outgoing and positive attitudes are the key Components to making friends. With Rob being the essence of joy, we know that he brought those qualities to the table. People saw his determination and his aspirations to become great, which lead them to want that for themselves. For a young guy who unfortunately only lived 28 years, and to touch so many people is remarkable. The circumstances of Rob's final bit of life were truly tragic. For such a successful man to be taken by someone who has done no good for anyone in his life was such a shame. Family and friends are two great pieces of everyone's social life. Regrettably we sometimes forget to tell them just how much they mean to us. I know I am a victim of this, Rob's friends and family undoubtedly miss him. That was evident from the large visitation. The Smile that made people in their lows Smile back, the funny jokes that could make you realize just how great life really is, and the teammate who takes on that work task even though their plate is full; this is the type of individual Rob was. You ought to be so proud of the great man Rob became. I know my parents dream of both of my brothers and me being just like that, Sycamore Athletics has really helped to shape me into who I am today. I played soccer at the varsity level for 2 years and basketball for 3. I have a ton of varsity experience, and I truly love competing. All the coaches that I have had through my four years have been so great for me. They have challenged me to the point that I know I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to. For example, the Soccer Coach, Scott Sievering, makes a fitness requirement for every player during the summer. Run two miles under 13 minutes. Now this obviously isn't the easiest task to complete, especially for a 6'4 basketball shooting forward. However, every year I have managed to make the time. This past year I achieved an 11:52 time. If you were to tell me my freshman year that I would be running a sub 12 minute two mile, I would laugh. This is just one example of how one high school sport has changed my mindset on achieving what is possible in life. Now I can imagine myself going to a four-year College and earning a job after graduation. This year I am the basketball team co-captain. We happen to be a very inexperienced group this year, and we hit a serious struggle in our first 6 games. I challenged myself that I wasn't going to let my Senior Season end so poorly. I stepped up and led by example in practice. My teammates jumped on the bus and, we continued to grind every day at practice and now we haven't lost a game since January 4th. Keeping a hardworking and positive attitude was vital to the 4 game winning streak we are on now. I am certain Rob would not have given up either. Sure the struggle is very hard at times, but making goals and working hard to achieve them is something that was in Rob's blood and mine as well. As the famous UCLA Coach John Wooden said, "Let's face it, we're all imperfect and we're going to fall short on occasion. But we must learn from failure and that will enable us to avoid repeating our mistakes. Through adversity, we learn, grow stronger, and become better people." I have put a lot of thought into playing basketball in College. I have a few opportunities on the table, yet I just don't know if the schools will get me to where I want in the future.
All my life I have been wearing the Kansas State purple. My parents are both alumni of Kansas State and both of my grandparents live in Manhattan, Kansas. I really do love the game of basketball and want to continue playing in College. However, my ultimate goal is to become the financial advisor for an NBA organization. This summer I had the privilege of going to Orlando for AAU nationals. I had a great time, and at the end of the trip I went to tour the Orlando stadium with my Mom and her good friend from College who works for the Orlando Magic. When we were touring the offices, I instantly knew I wanted to work in an NBA organization. The idea of being around basketball for my career without playing excited me. Instead of playing the game, I could work for the game. I believe Kansas State is the best road in getting me to my dream job. The cost of Kansas State is just like in-state tuition, but comparing that to a full ride to a Division 2 school for basketball is a very hard decision. This Scholarship would mean so much to me. It would first of all be a tremendous honor and secondly would help our family financially. Thank you so much for the opportunity that you have given so many senior athletes. Rob is the definition of a true Aviator. He flies high in everyone's mind. I am so grateful for the opportunity to express my thoughts on your son. Regardless of who is chosen to receive this scholarship, they will definitely be deserving. Sycamore has so many great leaders and people which such bright futures. Thank you for considering me, and for your on-going Commitment to young adults at Sycamore High School. Thank you and Go Aves!
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2013
Rob Pursley is an epitome of a true friend and teammate. He was always there for everyone, helping them, listening to them, and most importantly, being a brother-like figure to everyone that came into his life. Rob was an enthusiastic man, and lived life to the fullest. He was full of joy, passion, and love. Not only was he a great teammate and friend, but also a family man. His family was a major role in his life, supporting him and loving him through everything. Sadly, his life tragically ended when he was murdered in a parking lot. Altogether, from reading his story, it is another reminder to be thankful for everything in my life because you can never know what day might be your last. Telling my family how much love them and care for them is so important to me. Words cannot describe the feelings and appreciation I feel for how much my parents and sister have impacted my life and how much they have gave up for me to make sure my life is amazing. I came to Sycamore High School my sophomore year and began playing basketball and running track. In my junior year started running Cross Country too. When looking at each team I have been on, the one thing I will always remember and be grateful for is my teammates and the bonds we shared. My team has always been the number one thing to me. I make sure that am there for anyone who needs help or needs someone to listen to. In addition to the team, many coaches at Sycamore have impacted my life and made me a better person and athlete. I am so thankful that Sycamore Athletics has allowed me these opportunities.
When looking at my life to Rob's, I feel like some of the main similarities are how we treated and cared for everyone and the great amount of passion in each sport we played. I am a quiet person, so when it comes to leadership I am not one who is always talking and leading the team vocally. What I feel I do is lead by example. I try my hardest every day, and let how play inspire others to do the same. Also, by always being a great teammate, I feel just being there for your team is a form of leadership that perform. Next year I am attending Thomas More College to play basketball. When I first walked onto the campus I knew this was the place for me. I love my future coach as well as my future team. I am planning on majoring in elementary education. I wanted to go into a major in which can help people. I also love being around little kids, so I thought going into this major will give me the best opportunity and experience to do this. Thomas More is a division three school, so I am not getting an athletic Scholarship, but I am receiving an academic one; however, it only covers half the tuition and I need as much financial assistance as I can get. Receiving this scholarship would be an honor and help me realize my dream in being a student athlete in College.
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2012
Rob Pursley. The definition of what it means to be a Sycamore Aviator. Rob was a prime example of a person that conducted himself with an extreme amount of class, enthusiasm, and initiative on and off the court. Pursley had a burning passion for his athletics and for making the people around him better. The main attribute that set him apart from a normal high school student was his ability to lead. Rob had no enemies; his aptitude to bring about inspiration among his teammates was undeniable. Not only did he help guide his teammates on the basketball court but he also served as a loyal friend around the halls and outside of the classroom. Rob Pursley centered his life around his loved ones, always putting himself second and his family, friends, and teammates first. He left a legacy for all Aviators, past, present, and future to abide and live by. Although Rob's life was tragically cut short at the age of twenty-eight, remembering his story and commemorating his life in the Sycamore community and in each of our families is extremely important. Robs's story, views, beliefs, and utter way of life deserve to be known by all. Making people feel wanted and important was one of the most admired notions Pursley lived by; he never took his loved ones for granted. After his death, acquaintances of Rob said many memorable things but all touched on one common theme: his ability to show appreciation and gratitude for the people surrounding him. Sycamore athletics have served as the heart to my high school career. As a freshman, I began pumping green and gold through my veins as I took part in varsity football and lacrosse. Participating in these activities has changed my mindset to one much like Rob Pursley's. Sycamore athletics push me to have the same sort of spark that Rob had; the ideal that inspires all athletes to lead. After being voted a football captain by my teammates senior year, I helped Command my team to having one of the most monumental seasons in Aviator football history. While on the field I served as our defense's quarterback, also known as strong safety. Both my teammates and coaches counted on me every single play to communicate calls, recognize offensive schemes, and of course stop the opposing team on third and short. As much as winning games and helping my guys to break records on the field mattered, having a stellar relationship off the field was extraordinarily important as well. I like to think that my teammates would agree that I had and will always have their backs on and off the football field. From freshman to senior year I was trained on how to get along and achieve success with all types of people. Also, I feel as though I was easy to relate to and was a true friend to anyone that surrounded me throughout my high school career. Sycamore football has taught me more mechanisms about life and even greater things about myself than I could have ever fathomed. I can't put into words how much the past four years of football have meant to me, I woke up every single day with an eagerness inside of me to make not only myself but my friends, teammates, and family better people. Taking advantage of every moment with my team made my year a stupendous one. Sycamore football made me what I am today. A leader. As far as my plans for next year, I will be attending Miami University in the fall and hope to continue my athletic career either by walking on the University's varsity football team or pursuing my passion in the recreational leagues. The opportunities that Sycamore athletics have given me are limitless, after gaining the knowledge on how to convey the people around me in any setting; I am sure to find success. Just as Rob Pursley made a positive impact on every person he met, I plan to continue down the path that he left for all Aviators to follow. There would be no better honor than to receive a scholarship in Rob's name.
Rob Pursley Scholarship, 2011
When I was younger, one of my favorite things to do was to go to the high school basketball games. I looked up to those seventeen and eighteen year-olds like they were gods, dreaming of the day I might be able to play on that same court. That time did come, and playing varsity basketball my junior and senior year has been one of the most rewarding experiences of high school. I feel a special bond, especially between the seven seniors, which is unmatched by any other sport or activity I have participated in. There is a reason we break on "family' every day-to each other we are like brothers, and nothing can ever change that. When I watched those games years ago, I never realized how much more there is to being a part of this team than just playing basketball-things like commitment, togetherness, and pride. As coaches constantly point out, they are preparing us not just for that week's game, but for the rest of our lives. I know that I will not be continuing my basketball career at the next level; however, the great thing about this Sport is that you can play some form of it for as long as you live. I greatly look forward to college intramural leagues, days spent at the Blue Ash Rec Center, and of course coming back to see the next generation of Aviators carry on the legacy and tradition that people like Rob Pursley helped to create.