RAVENNA – If you attend a Ravenna High School athletic event, then you’re more likely to see Hunter Hogan competing than not.
Truth is, he never stops. Just ask Ravenna basketball coach Courtney Kemp.
“Anything we can do, he can do better. If you’re eating next to him, he is going to eat more of it and twice as fast as you,” Kemp said. “Kills him to lose.”
In an age of sports specialization, technology and conveniences, Hogan is a throwback in every sense of the word.
The youngest of Alyssa and Doug Hogan’s three children was raised in the old-school way: With a football or fishing pole in his hands rather than a cell phone; kicking around a soccer ball, playing tag with his siblings or cutting wood with his dad and grandfather as opposed to playing video games.
By the time his senior year ends next spring, he will have earned 15 varsity letters for the Bulldogs: Four in soccer; three each in football, basketball and track; and two in baseball. He could have had at least one more letter, but spring sports were canceled his freshman year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hogan doesn’t just play sports — he’s versatile and gifted in pretty much all of them. His agility, speed, athleticism and grit help set him apart.
If there’s something he’s not good at, it’s saying no.
“I don’t know, really,” Hogan replied with a grin when asked why he’s so involved. “I don’t know, people always ask and I guess I just show up to whatever I can, when I can. I don’t really plan anything out normally.”
Photos by CatchMark and other contributed sources
Hogan racked up five varsity letters during his junior year and he’s on track to do it again as a senior: Dual-sporting in the fall with football and soccer, playing basketball in the winter, and dual-sporting in the spring with baseball and track.
All of this, and he’s still only 16 years old. Hogan turns 17 this coming Tuesday, Sept. 20.
Next year at this time, he might be pursuing a path as an electrician apprentice or possibly playing college football.
Strip away athletics, though, and what you’ll find is a low-key guy who is just trying to be kind.
“He really amazes me,” said his mother, Alyssa Hogan. “I’ve caught him more than once cleaning the stands in the student section after basketball games after everyone has left.
“He mentioned picking a kid up who doesn’t have a ride home when he saw him walking a few times. He said, ‘Mom, I gave him my number so he can text me any time.’”
Ravenna football coach Justin Ego knows who to call on when the Bulldogs (3-1 overall, 2-0 West Michigan Conference Rivers Division) need a big play. Ego calls Hogan a “Swiss Army knife” and it’s apparent why: The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder is starting quarterback and free safety, and he also handles kicking, punting and return duties.
In Friday’s 55-13 home win over Shelby, Hogan was 9-of-10 passing for 232 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, he rushed eight times for 173 yards and four TDs, and he notched a team-high six tackles and two interceptions. Hogan also was 7-for-7 on PATs.
It’s very rare for Hogan to leave the field during a football game. When he does find time around football practices and games, however, he’ll change into his soccer uniform and join that team. Even if a match has already started, Hogan jumps in and instantly he’s one of the better players on the field. He can play just about any position on the soccer field and thrive for the Bulldogs (2-4-1 overall, 1-2-1 WMC).
“Hunter, he’s an athlete. He’s been an athlete all his life,” Ravenna soccer coach Alex Mares said. “He can play baseball, soccer. He can play any sport, really, and he’s good at everything.
“He’s a good kid. Smart. His personality is great. He’s a really good thing for Ravenna right now.”
In basketball, Hogan has earned a reputation for being a defensive menace. He hustles, clings to the opponent he’s covering and plays with a chip on his shoulder. You know the type that one typically dreads playing against but would love to have as a teammate? That’s Hogan.
Kemp calls him a “competition junkie,” who will do whatever’s needed to win: Defensive stopper, supplemental scorer, tone-setter.
“The casual basketball fan, they don’t realize Hunter played a huge part in his team’s success without scoring a basket,” said Kemp, whose squad advanced to the regional finals last season, the deepest tournament run for the Bulldogs since 1955. “Every coach has a player on their team they feel can take the other team’s best player away. Truth is, we don’t always believe it. With Hunter, I believe it.
“I have never walked into a gym and felt the other team’s tough guy is tougher than ours. We win that battle every time Hogan ties his shoes.”
It’s a mentality. Hogan may not be the traditional vocal leader, but he points the way through his actions and his peers follow.
Hogan’s cousin, Derek Finlay, is a 14-year-old sophomore on Ravenna’s varsity football team and he dual-sports in soccer as well. Finlay looks to Hogan as a role model, someone he’s always admired. Finlay marvels at Hogan’s “pure athleticism” and how he’s “freaky athletic.”
Last spring, Hogan tied Benny Clark Jr.’s school record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.9 seconds. Clark’s record had stood for 26 years.
“He really brings a lot of energy and I think he brings a little swagger that the kids kind of follow and kind of start building on,” Ego said. “I think he has that confidence, and I think the good thing is the work ethic he’s put in. He works so hard and he knows he’s ready for any position we put him in.”
Hogan was raised with a blue-collar mindset. While sports have always been at the forefront, fishing is a pastime and an escape that he really enjoys.
Hogan also has spent a lot of time tagging along with older sisters Makayla and Skylar, who have mothered him. Hunter and Skylar share the same birthdate, three years apart.
Instead of downing fancy sports drinks, Hogan has consumed hundreds of gallons of whole milk.
So many times, he made the nearly half-mile trek through the woods to his grandparents’ home, tossing a football or kicking a soccer ball back and forth with his father.
Photos by CatchMark and other contributed sources
“Him and I would have to kick the dang ball — or throw the football — all the way,” Doug Hogan remembered. “That was almost an everyday thing. Go see grandpa and grandma, have some cookies or milk or whatever grandma had. There was always a ball in his hand or on his foot.”
Despite his athletic prowess, Hogan has never taken a physical education class in high school. “There’s no point. I know how to run and stuff,” he said with a smirk.
Hogan’s days are very busy and that’s before he sets foot on an athletic field. He starts his day at the Career Tech Center in Muskegon, then it’s back to Ravenna High School before going to practices or games.
Hogan enjoys all the sports he plays, but football has emerged as his No. 1. He loves to compete, but he’s made a lot of friends through sports and he wants to be there for them. Excelling athletically is a bonus, but that’s not what necessarily drives him.
“It means a lot to me now because I know how much it means to the guys on the field,” Hogan said. “It has to mean a lot to you or don’t play.”
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