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HANOVER–River Ridge senior Tayden Patterson had high hopes for his senior year as he prepares for his collegiate career at Clarke University in Dubuque next season.
During his high school career, Patterson played baseball and basketball for four years and also competed in golf during his sophomore and junior years. Patterson is also active in school and was the vice-president of River Ridge’s Students Against Destructive Decisions club and is also in student council and a member of National Honor Society.
“Starting off in the fall, I didn’t compete in any sports because I wanted to train for basketball and baseball,” said Patterson. “For our school it was a big time because our school moved to 8-man football and the whole school was excited. We were hoping that excitement would carry over to basketball.”
River Ridge began basketball in November with high hopes for Patterson and his team. Patterson said he loves basketball and was prepared for a fun season.
“It didn’t go quite as planned,” said Patterson. “We had an early exit, but I enjoyed my last season with my teammates and everybody in the community who come out to support us.”
Patterson was looking forward to baseball because he knew he was going to compete in baseball at the next level and was excited to get back to it and to go for a three-peat as regional champions.
“Based on how last year ended with the rain out game, I was just really excited to get back on the mound, get back in the box and be ready to compete again in baseball. Obviously, that didn’t happen.”
One of the highlights of Patterson’s senior season was signing day, where Patterson signed with Clarke University.
“I didn’t know how many people knew about it,” said Patterson. “Seeing all of my teammates there and some of the people in the community that had always supported us, coming into the gym and seeing them support me meant a lot.”
Patterson also plays on a travel team based in Cuba City, Wis., and begins with that team in January. Patterson would go up to Cuba City for practices on Sunday and would get some throwing work in as well as some swings. He also worked at K-Zone in Dubuque to take part in personal lessons. He would hit and pitch for 30 minutes each, something he has done since eighth grade.
“I attribute a lot of my success to the extra time I put in with travel ball and going over to K-Zone and Eric Munson, also in Dubuque,” said Patterson. “I feel, without that I would not become the player that I am today. Getting all that extra work in the winter, I feel it gives you a leg up for the spring.”
River Ridge/Scales Mound had two full weeks of practice prior to the cancellations taking effect due to coronavirus.
“We had a lot of indoor practices the first week due to the weather, it was just a normal season and we were all getting ready,” said Patterson. “The second week was when some things started getting cancelled like the state basketball tournament. We were kind of hoping it wouldn’t get to us, based on how rural we are and how small we are.”
Patterson said he was hoping that with their small area that the IHSA would allow teams to compete.
“As it got worse and worse, it just became reality that it was at least getting pushed back,” said Patterson. “The longer it went on we just slowly started to realize the reality of what could possibly happen.”
Patterson remembered reading that if the governor’s stay-at-home order was extended that IHSA would cancel the remainder of the season.
Once he heard that news from the Governor, he realized that his senior season was over. The following Tuesday, the IHSA cancelled the season.
“When I found out, I was very devastated,” said Patterson. “I cried a bit, my family cried, they all enjoyed coming to the games and watching. It was weird not being able to have those last few memories with the kids that I have played sports with since I was in preschool. I have been coming up with them forever and not having the final season together hurt a lot.”
Patterson said not being able to have one last run at a regional or sectional championship and not having senior night made the pain worse.
Those same thoughts of missing time with friends at school has been a realization that Patterson has had to deal with over the past two months.
“I never thought I would say that I missed school,” said Patterson. “Ever since this started, I have thought about all the fun that I actually do have at school. All of the time you get to spend with the kids at your school, it is a lot of fun. Once you lose it, you realize how great it actually is. It is weird thinking that I was walking down that hallway for the last time without even knowing it.”
Patterson said he is trying to make the most out of the time off and it has allowed him to continue to prepare for next season.
Patterson will major in biology at Clarke University and be on the pre-physical therapy path. His goal is to become a physical therapist and after six years at Clarke, Patterson hopes to earn his doctorate in physical therapy. The program takes one year off his undergraduate degree and doctoral work to allow him to graduate early with that degree.
Patterson will also be pitching for the Crusaders.
“I also chose Clarke because of the connection I had with coach (Dan) Spain and (Anthony) Razo and they have had a very successful program,” said Patterson. “It was the perfect fit for me academically and all the success they have had with baseball over there, it was a no-brainer for me. I hope that we can all go back in the fall and start that new chapter.”