Meyersdale Area’s Drake Gindlesperger realizes that he was much more fortunate than many of his other athletic counterparts.
Gindlesperger, who qualified for the PIAA Wrestling Championships for the first time in his career, was able to complete the season before Gov. Tom Wolf closed the schools due to the coronavirus pandemic and the PIAA was forced to cancel the rest of the winter sports competitions and canceled the entire spring slate of events.
“We finished up a week before all of this started,” Gindlesperger said. “We at least were able to have a conclusion to the season. I felt really bad for our big rivals at Berlin, because those boys were not able to finish it out and that has to really hurt. You never know what might have happened.”
There was a bit of a disappointment for Gindlesperger when it came to rejoining the baseball team this spring.
“I had been a member of the state championship squad when I was a freshman and had decided to play again,” Gindlesperger said. “We had a bunch of starters back and all the expectations in the world. We had been practicing a couple weeks and were really taking it seriously because we could see how much potential we had. We were looking to win the WestPAC, District 5 and then see what we could do in the state playoffs, but it just didn’t work out.”
Gindlesperger was a four-year letterwinner with the football team playing halfback and middle linebacker, and a four-year letterwinner for weightlifting.
The Red Raider had missed part of his junior year in football and the entire year of wrestling when he blew out his knee.
After two surgeries and eight months of therapy, he fulfilled his goal of returning for both football and wrestling.
“I was really excited to get back on the football field,” Gindlesperger said. “Wrestling was like a bonus for me. I had never made it to the state tournament before this year and was the runner-up in District 5 and finished fifth in the regional to qualify for states. I lost by a point in the blood round, which would have given me a medal.”
Gindlesperger was selected as Meyersdale’s Boy of the Year, which is a school award based on a combination of character, athletic and academic credentials.
In addition, he is a member of National Honor Society, student council, science club and part of mini-thon, which helps raise funds for pediatric cancer.
Outside of school, he is a member of Summit Mills Grace Brethren youth group and also helps out with the Meyersdale Church of the Brethren Kid’s Club.
He enjoys camping, hanging out with friends and watching sports, especially with his dad.
Gindlesperger admits that he will really miss the brotherhood that formed among the football players.
“I am just going to miss that overall Friday Night Lights and the atmosphere of entering the stadium with the entire community sitting in the stands cheering you on,” Gindlesperger said. “I am going to miss all of my friends and classmates, and my teachers. I am thankful to have made the memories that I did.”
Gindlesperger, the son of Craig and Jami Gindlesperger, of Meyersdale, plans to attend Duquesne University to pursue a six-year degree in pharmacy.
“I am going to miss high school, but am ready to move on and have been blessed in so many aspects of my life,” Gindlesperger said.