Kyler Essink | Senior | Bennington High School
It’s a great feeling to win the state baseball championship, but it’s an even better one when the whole team rallies around you and your family. Kyler Essink, catcher for Bennington High School, was surprised when his team and their parents handed out purple bracelets that said #TeamCarrie Cancer’s a Pitch before the first state tournament game. Kyler’s mom, Carrie, had been in isolation due to chemotherapy suppressing her bone marrow and sending her into renal failure. Fortunately, Carrie was able to get out of the hospital in time to cheer them on to win the class B state championship.
During the tournament, the team changed their breakdown chant to “Team Carrie” as loud as they could when they came off the field. They also included her in the team photo on the field, and they even put one of the bracelets on the trophy in the case at school. When asked about the support from the team, Kyler replied, “I’m proud of it. Our team’s really close and that’s why we performed so well at state.”
Kyler is a leader, both on and off the field. He was the only junior team captain this past season. “As a returning captain, I’ll probably take on more of a leadership role. Just hoping to repeat,” he said, grinning. This past season has been the most fun. “It was really cool to win the first game, and then we kept it going and decided to win it all.” In addition to the team championship in 2019, Kyler personally received Academic All-State, Academic All-Conference, First Team Eastern Midlands Conference All-Conference, and Honorable Mention All-State.
Kyler plans to pursue a career in healthcare. He’s a member of the UNMC High School Alliance program, which teaches about various branches of healthcare. There are about sixty-six members who had to undergo a rigorous application process to be selected. During the school year, he attends class in Bennington for four periods, drives to UNMC for a two hour class, and then returns for varsity football and baseball practices.
His family moved from Creighton, NE, to Bennington when Kyler was 14. It was tough to leave, but Bennington baseball has helped him find new friends. “We’re like brothers. We just like to have fun.”