Downing has become a familiar name in Perspective sports this year. Now, there is more than one to talk about.
As of Oct. 9, both the Eastern volleyball and football teams clinched Hoosier Heartland Conference titles. This marks a three-peat for volleyball and back-to-back HHC titles for football. Nicole Downing, mother of Adalyn and Zane Downing, said in a year of such uncertainty she was relieved her kids got a chance to play this year.
“Some of my best memories from high school were from playing sports,” she said. “That’s really what I want for them, is to be able to look back in 20 years and be like, ‘Oh, I remember that' or 'I remember when we did this,' or 'that bus ride or that game.’ So just the fact that they get to make those memories, and plus on successful teams, that’s just a bonus.”
Though sidelined most of this season with a meniscus injury, as well as missing last season with a separate knee injury, sophomore Adalyn has been able to soak up what has allowed her team to be so successful and is eager to put it to use as an upperclassman.
She hasn’t lost her spirit since going down in the fourth game of the season, but she admits it’s a double-edged sword to celebrate your team’s success without contributing heavily.
“My team has really helped to keep me up, and know that next year I’ll be back out there playing again. You know, I really miss being out there,” Adalyn said. “But my team has done a really good job as I said. They’ve been supportive of me and making sure my spirits are up.”
The volleyball team has played together since before middle school, she said, so the bonds were deep and strong, and the level of play has followed.
Adalyn said she plans to emerge as a leader and was excited for it to be her turn to continue the tradition of winning at a high level. She credited senior Loralei Evans as the perfect example of leadership and someone she’d want to emulate from an upperclassman level.
On the field, senior Zane said he was happy to get a win to carry on the Eastern tradition for the underclassmen on his team, but the win meant a little bit more to him this season.
“Winning the day after my sister and the volleyball team won conference was pretty cool. You don’t get that chance often, let alone having a sibling on the team, so it was pretty awesome,” he said. “She’s a great athlete, so I think she’ll be able to carry on the winning legacy.”
Zane broke the rushing record and touchdown record as a running back this season for the Comets. He said winning the HHC was not only a goal this season, but it also was expected of his team.
He said multiple factors go into having a winning program, be it personal diligence or being a product of a good environment. They go hand-in-hand.
“I think it’s a little bit of both. Eastern’s got a great legacy, but you can’t discredit all the hard work all the athletes have put in recently.”
Downing said the support between the programs at Eastern was special, and after seeing the volleyball team win, she said the football team decided it needed to go out and win its own trophy as well.
“It’s exciting for the school, too, just to be back and see the kids excited for other teams and each other. There were some football players that came to the girls’ game when they won the conferences, and they wanted to hold the conference trophy,” she said. “It’s just cool to see that there’s some spirit at Eastern, and the kids are excited for each other.”
Along with the HHC titles, Adalyn captured her first sectional championship win with her team over the weekend. That's one more trophy the football team is hopeful for.