Jack of all trades: Junior athlete serves team as utility player

Reagan Brown

He dives to catch the outfield fly ball. He fields the fast-paced grounder on the infield before throwing it to the first baseman for an out. He concentrates on the catcher’s signals before firing another strike across the plate. Junior Hunter Van Etten makes sure he doesn’t get too comfortable in any one position as he is a utility player for the Vikings and moves frequently. Hunter developed a passion for the game from an early and has worked to develop his skills in every position.

“I started playing baseball when I was four years old,” Hunter said. “When I was little I went to all my brothers practices and I really enjoyed the game and wanted to play.”

Hunter’s passion for the sport has continued to increase over the years and his high school coach, David Powers, has watched him grow from a young age.

“I’ve known Hunter since he was 10 or 11 from baseball camp and Little League so I’ve been able to see him grow in so many ways,” Powers said. “It’s one of the great things about coaching and teaching in a community such as ours. I get to see players grow from boys to men and enjoy the fact that they’ve matured.”

Powers has seen Hunter develop into an all-around player willing to do whatever he can to help make the team stronger.

“Hunter has impacted the team by being able to play multiple positions; outfield, all infield positions, and pitcher,” Powers said. “Hunter shows up to work everyday. We have a very cohesive team, and it’s great to see a junior on a team with so many seniors step up and add leadership.”

Having a player who is capable of playing anywhere on the field allows the team to fill in the holes when others are having an off day.

“I’m a utility player and where I play depends on who is pitching,” Hunter said. “I enjoy being a utility player because if there is ever a position struggling, I can fill in and do my job.”

While Hunter does have a position he prefers over others, his overall commitment is to his team, not himself.

“I like pitching best because you’re in control of the pace of the game,” Hunter said. “Mostly though, I just want to better my team and play whatever position I can to help them.”

Though Hunter is adept across the field of play, he recognizes areas he needs to continue working on to
become a better player each time he steps onto the field.

“Hitting is the most difficult part of baseball because a player can do everything right, even hit a hard ball, and it can still go straight to someone for an easy out,” Hunter said. “One of the things I need to focus on is making clutch hits and reducing my errors on the field.”

Hunter and his teammates motivate each other and work together even when they are down.

“We’re a really scrappy team,” Hunter said. “We need to work hard on winning close ball games because we play good defense and scratch a couple every game, so we’ve got to win the close ones.”

Hunter leads by example demonstrating to his teammates his commitment and work ethic as a way to make the team more successful.

“Hunter is a good leader,” teammate junior Zachary Parker said. “He leads on and off the field. He’s a wonderful teammate and he’s an example setter. Hunter always works hard after practice, staying and doing extra. He’s doing his best in everything he can.”

Even though Hunter has been playing for years and still looks for ways to improve himself and the team.

“No matter how good a player is, they can always get better,” Hunter said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how far we can go in the playoffs and how we can develop as a team.”