By Avery Friedt
Even if you don’t know Tanner Sumption personally, you’ve definitely seen him around. Standing 6’7, with bright red hair, he’s hard to miss. While his height may cause him to stand out in the halls, it makes him fit in perfectly on the basketball court as Central’s starting power forward.
In basketball, power forwards, or posts, are usually the second tallest players on the court, after the center. Offensively, they have to be versatile. They have to be able to shoot mid range jump shots and also be able to score close to the basket. Defensively, they must be big enough to guard players close to the basket but quick enough to guard the long range shooters. A good post is hard to come by due to the many requirements they have to meet, but Central has found that in Tanner Sumption.
Tanner was destined to play basketball. Not only was he blessed with height, but his dad was a very successful coach. He helped Tanner learn the basics and sharpen his skills. He saw Tanner’s potential and signed him up for a beginners league when he was five years old. He had an immense love for the game from the very start. “I like the feeling: being on the court, playing with my team. There’s nothing like it.” He made it very clear how important his team is to him.
Throughout the interview, I had a lot of trouble getting Tanner to talk about himself. No matter the question, he would find a way to relate it back to a teammate or his team as a whole. “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team.’ That’s something I think every athlete should realize. Without my team to back me up, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. One player alone can’t win a game.” Tanner’s unwillingness to talk about himself gave me the opportunity to go to his team and coaches and see what they had to say about him. I started with his fellow seniors.
His teammates had only positive things to say about Tanner. All of them agreed that his main goal is to better the team, not to look good as an individual. Teammate Ryan Clemmons said, “He has a ton of passion for the game, which is always good to have in a player on your squad. He cares about the team a lot, and he’s always looking for ways to improve.” They also talked about how his main priority is to set his team up for success. “He doesn’t handle the ball most of the time, but if he has to, he can make the tough shots. Usually he’ll just try to get the ball to a shooter, if they’re open,” Parker Schnabel said, adding, “He’s crafty. He’ll do what it takes to get us ahead.” Tucker Berg and Josh Dotson both said they value him greatly, as a teammate and friend. All the players I talked to spoke about his ability to see the big picture and work towards bettering the team. Coach Vince Spease agreed with them. “The main stress in our program is the “No ‘I’ in ‘team’ ” mentality. Tanner gets that. He’s a great role model. He has the smarts, skills, and ability to succeed at whatever he sets his mind towards.”
After talking to all these people about Tanner, it was clear to me why he avoided talking about himself: he cares about about the team more than himself. He is the ultimate team player, a quality that is sure to get him noticed, both as a basketball player and as a person. That kind of humility and selflessness will make his future a bright one.