BATAVIA – Batavia senior Sebastian Vermaas threw his hands up to the idea of becoming a top discus and shot put athlete over the summer.
Far from the first person coaxed from the football offensive line to try track and field, Vermaas has since discovered his interest lies in the area situated behind the Bulldog Stadium fence, not on its gridiron.
He’s not yet sure whether that will translate into a collegiate track career, and that’s no problem. Vermaas will gladly take his firm pulse on the thrill of competing.
“All offseason, every day after football and stuff, it was really something during the summer that I wanted to become great at,” he said. “It just became a passion.”
Honing his spinning technique with each throw, Vermaas doesn’t bring as many on-the-job yarns to the discus and shot put pits as many contemporaries.
Dennis Piron, who coaches Batavia football and track, only reeled the 6-foot-3, 200-pound “Sea Bass” into spring sports for his junior season.
Vermaas recovered from what he called a “pretty lousy” debut to finish with personal records of 139 feet, 6 inches in the discus and 40-4 in the shot put. He entered Wednesday’s home dual against Geneva with respective PRs of 163-1 and 50-4, both team bests.
His top discus effort clears Class 3A state qualifying standards by more than eight feet, while his shot put is 2 feet, 7 inches shy. Bulldogs throws coach Bill Kettering, who also sees “something special” in Vermaas while teaching Batavia’s AP government class, knows how Vermaas treats barriers.
“He’s a good student, he’s a good athlete, he’s a good leader,” Kettering said. “If we could clone him, it’d be nice.”
The humble Vermaas credits memories of former track and football teammates such as Austin Lewis and Zack Schoettes when addressing his work ethic. He remembers watching both and wanting to be a role model for younger throwers once he became a senior.
Classmate Nathan Sarkisian, a four-year thrower who played football for three seasons, also has been a friend and Vermaas sounding board.
“He’s a very good athlete. He’s top-notch, definitely. He helps me out, I help him out,” Sarkisian said. “We give each other feedback on each other’s throws. I think we’re both working off of each other.”
Vermaas still is pondering the possibility of continuing with track. A starting offensive lineman for a football program that went 18-0 during the past two regular seasons, he at first considered small college football before deciding to give up the sport.
He plans to study finance at DePaul and has had preliminary contact with Blue Demons coaches about potential opportunities.
“When I decided not to play football, that’s when DePaul became my choice,” Vermaas said. “And then I don’t know, when I came out this year for track and because of all the hard work and the passion that it became, I started looking into seeing if I could do it in college.”
It’s worth a try, Vermaas figured. It wasn’t the first time the notion dawned on him.