Archive for Thursday, June 12, 2003

Academics guide Pyle

June 12, 2003

On a campus of about 400 students, it's pretty easy to stand out. Andrew Pyle, however, could probably stand out in any student body.

The recent Eudora High School graduate is known throughout his hometown. In four years Pyle amassed a scholastic resume that in and of itself would be worthy of attention. Add an All-state first-team selection in football and you have the makings of a big man on campus. Throw in an all-state first-team selection in baseball and you have the makings of a superstar.

Pyle is now set to enrich the population of Grinnell College in Iowa. The transitioning star chose Grinnell for current opportunities and fortification of a bright future.

"I heard about (Grinnell's) academic reputation and it sounded good," Pyle said.

The academic bait allowed for the college to sell its athletic program.

"They were telling me I can step in and start right away in both sports," Pyle said. "I can get in the spotlight quickly."

Pyle's desire for the spotlight cannot be misconstrued as a misguided ego. The ultra-humble Pyle's desire for attention is honorably aimed at the fulfillment of his long-term goal to play professional baseball. The decision to attend a prestigious academic school provides evidence of levelheaded planning.

"(Grinnell) is a place where I can develop athletically, but if it doesn't work out I'll have an education behind me," explained Pyle.

Pyle's senior season surely left Grinnell recruiters beguiled. The Cardinal's leading man carried Eudora into a new age of statewide recognition and respect.

"Senior year was awesome," Pyle said.

That statement alone is impressive with the migration of his football coach Aaron Barnett to Washburn Rural and his baseball coach's resignation prior to his senior year.

"It was interesting," Pyle said referring to his new coaches -- Gregg Webb in football and Dirk Kinney in baseball. "They are both great coaches. It was an easy adjustment. The seasons went great."

Both teams envisioned state championships when establishing goals. With the obvious exception of the championships that eluded his teams, Pyle said he accomplished everything he wanted to in high school.

Although blessed with talent, Pyle had to overcome a less than intimidating physical presence. The average height and weight of a man Pyle's age is 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds. Pyle stands in at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. The Cards' starting tailback measures just slightly larger than the average male but his achievements are anything but average and measure among the finest the state has ever seen.

"I think my size hurt college recruiting," Pyle said. "Colleges didn't want me because of my size or my 40 time wasn't fast enough. I'm motivated to prove people wrong."

Pyle made believers weekly this season leading class 4A in rushing for the second consecutive year and placing the Cards and their 11 wins on the doorstep of a state title.

Although the Eudora great did not bring home a championship he did take home a remarkable collection of honors.

Pyle was all-state 4A first-team, all-state all-classes second-team, all-metro first-team, all-area first team, all-frontier league first-team, selected to the Metro Classic Football Game, played in the Kansas Shrine Bowl and a finalist for the Frank Fontana Award awarded to the best small-class football player in the Kansas City metropolitan area. While attaining these accolades Pyle became only the third person in the state of Kansas to rush for more than 2,000 yards in consecutive seasons, rushing for a two-year total exceeding 4,400 yards.

After the football season concluded Pyle shifted his focus to baseball. Following a fantastic football season, an average baseball season would prove to be an anti-climactic end to a legendary career. To prevent such an end, Pyle led the Cardinals to a record-breaking 14 win season, the finest in school history.

The team MVP hit .548 with 14 of his 34 hits going for extra bases and a .903 slugging percentage. Pyle made hardball look easy.

"I had a goal as a freshman to make all-state in baseball," Pyle said. "Making all-state capped off my career at Eudora High. It meant a lot to me."

The Eudora shortstop was all-state 4A first-team, all-Frontier League first-team, selected to the Kansas Association of Baseball Coaches All-Star game and the Metro All-Star Baseball game.

Combining the achievements of each sport Pyle was nominated for Kansas Male Athlete of the Year.

"I try to make sure that stuff doesn't get to my head too much," Pyle said. "I hate it when people act like their good."

Pyle's not acting.

"I love being part of high school athletics," Pyle said. "Especially in a small town. It's fun having the paper covering all our games and the whole town coming out to see you. I will miss the support the whole team got, no matter how we played.

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