CHS ranked as a top 10 athletic program in the nation


THREE STEP DROP: Varsity quarterback and senior Jake McDonald looks for an open teammate against Center Grove High School. McDonald said diligent preparation before games is key to success. Selena Liu | Photo

Maxpreps, a source for high school sports, ranked CHS number 10 in the nation for best athletic programs and number one in Indiana. Student athletes said this ranking has created a different atmosphere while playing for CHS.

Quarterback and senior Jake McDonald said, “People always kind of look at Carmel as having an advantage for some reason, just by how many students we have or whatever it may be and so they always want to come after us. Some people think the stereotypical Carmel kid is the cocky kid and is always talking trash and stuff but as for me I don’t see it as much. As the stereotype has built up over the years, people are like, ‘this is the team we want,’ and we think everyone hates us, and that’s just something that has come through with history.”

According to John Hebert, varsity head coach of the football team, Carmel is everyone’s “big game.” He said it is rare for a team to have an off night when playing against CHS. Hebert said when a team plays against CHS, they bring their best game. They are better prepared and more motivated, because if CHS loses it’s a major point of status for the opposing team.

“I think athletes at Carmel have to understand the perception that they’re not going to be treated like everybody else, they’re not going to be respected by everybody else, so I think there has to be some internal understanding of what it means to play at Carmel. I think there is a sport psychology to it, and to be honest, (the football team is) still trying to figure that part out because the team right now is (2-2 as of press deadline) and so we have to redefine who we are and what we’re capable of being every year,” Hebert said.

Varsity soccer player and junior Caleb Hussain passes the ball to a teammate. Hussain said he believes there is increased pressure when playing for CHS due to the school’s athletic dominance.
Claire Abdellah | Photo

According to Thomas Gastineau, varsity cross-country runner and junior, and Caleb Hussain, varsity soccer player and junior, this dynamic with competing teams is not limited to football. Gastineau said CHS cross-country team is the team that other schools set their target on. He said while Carmel’s team sets their target on beating Caroll High School, the 2016 cross-country state championship, other schools like Fishers set their goal on beating CHS.   

“There’s a lot of pressure with playing for Carmel. There’s the ‘everyone wants to beat you just because you’ve got ‘Carmel’ written on the front of your jersey’ mentality,” Hussain said. “It’s actually really funny. Before games (the opposing players) are all in this little huddle and they’re all psyching up like it’s the State Championship or something and if they beat us, such as last time when we faced Center Grove, the fan section cleared out onto the field and they just went nuts. It was just a regular-season game and they were treating it like the State Championship; it was crazy.”

Hebert said he thinks athletes at CHS are pressured due to the school’s reputation.

“I think when you’re at Carmel and everyone expects you to be number one and you’re not there, I think that can have a physiological effect on the team in a lot of different ways…I think most people at Carmel feel like we should all be successful. We should be in the top team in every sport. That’s just how people think here which again goes back to why Carmel is number one, ‘cause people expect it. Success breeds success,” Hebert said.

McDonald said since CHS is one of the top schools for athletics, there’s added pressure to stay on top of things and a need to win because that is what people expect from the players.

He said, “Last year when (the football team) clearly didn’t start off to a great season, people were like, ‘Wow, Carmel must not be good this year,’ and it’s kind of like a let down because everyone expected us to be better…but we bounced back and clearly ended well.”

Gastineau said CHS’s cross-country team is more successful because the runners are more focused. He said their goal every year is to win the State Championship so the team has to always be ready to go out, do well and win. Gastineau also said the size of the team is a factor to its success.

“We’re a lot bigger than other teams, we have around 160 guys, which is more than doubled the amount of runners compared to any other team. I think it’s a huge advantage, especially running varsity. You’ve got all those JV kids cheering you on when you’re running on the field, which is such an advantage. It gives you that adrenaline rush,” he said.

McDonald said he owes the team’s success to the coaching staff. He said the coaches spend four to five hours watching films per day and take time away from their families until 9 p.m. on Sundays helping make sure the football team is prepared.

“We might not always have the most talented or the best players in the state, but we’re always the most prepared,” McDonald said. “Our coaches prepare us like no other. They are spending hours on films and people don’t really give them enough recognition. Preparation is key which I think helps us a lot.”