Faces in KS: Creighton Sanders

Creighton Sanders is one of the most unique athletes we've seen in Kansas. (photos:Trachelle Extine)
By: Sean Boston for Sports in Kansas
Sep 30, 2015

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Competing in four sports at an all-state caliber level, and a school musical may seem hard for most people, but for Creighton Sanders, he makes it work out easy.  Sanders is a senior at Wichita Heights and competes in football, swimming, baseball and track & field.  All of which Sanders excels in.

“I always have something to focus on. I don’t get bored or burnt out with just one sport. It gives me an opportunity to cross train and be part of different team dynamics,” Sanders said.  “This allows me to venture out and learn how athletes train in different sports.”

By the time your senior year rolls in, most students think that one sport is good enough, and all they have time for, especially if they want to play somewhere in college.  But for Sanders, he feels that the more he is involved with, the more he’ll exceed in and be able to contribute his skills in.  Heights is a large 5A school in the northeastern part of Wichita and plays in the Greater Wichita Athletic League.  

“It doesn’t make sense to give up on something you have worked so hard to accomplish. It is really all about my teammates and being committed to them and the success of our team,” Sanders said.  “Each sport has a different feel to it and I really enjoy being a part of a common goal.”

Sanders has competed in baseball the longest, beginning to play since he was in first grade.  Football came just behind baseball as he began in the second grade.  Since then Sanders has picked up swimming for the Falcons, something that keeps him in shape for all of his other sports.  In Sanders’ junior year at Heights, he decided that he would throw the javelin for the track & field team. He was already one of the best hurdlers in Kansas, but hurdles and javelin don't usually feature the same type of athlete.  That happened on the first day of track practice when the Falcons throwing coach asked Sanders, “You have a good arm, right?”  Sanders replied with “Coach I throw people out from center field to home plate.”  Sanders then became a javelin thrower and became one of the nation’s best last season.  He became the 5A state champion in javelin with a throw of 204 ft, 11 inches.  His throw in the state track and field meet put him in the top five in the nation in javelin throws last year, in Sanders first ever year throwing in the event.

“I am not really sure I can boost much about my technique, which is something I need to continue to develop,” Sanders said.  “My speed on the runway gives me confidence that when I get to the point of launch I can use my body to make the javelin travel as far as I need to win the event. I believe my position on the baseball diamond helps me. I work on a baseball throwing program year around that keeps my arm in shape; swimming is part of that process. I just really enjoy track.”

Sanders is not just a great athlete, but a phenomenal person.  Sanders volunteers his time at many local events volunteering including the Wichita Eagle/Varsity Kansas Shoe Drive, League 42 which is a baseball academy for those who are less fortunate started by Bob Lutz, being a mentor for the Teen Hero organization, and many other organizations and volunteer groups.

“I know how fortunate I am.  Helping others reminds me of just how fortunate. I get great joy from seeing other receive joy,” Sanders said.  “Honestly my mom required me to commit to community service starting my freshman year. I’ve never stopped since then.”

Sanders credits a lot of his work to the mentors he has had in his live.  Including his mom, teachers, coaches, family and friends, and so many more.  Sanders has had the privilege of being a grandson to a retired United States Air Force veteran who has reminded Creighton to put his family first, as you never know when the last time you’ll be with your family will truly be.  

Not only is Sanders a member of the school’s fall musical, he is a member of the schools singing group called the “Madrigals,” which goes around and sings around the Wichita metro area, and performs at concerts.  Sanders has had the privilege of singing at the local, city, and state level.  Sanders currently holds a 3.9 GPA as well as being in all of these clubs and organizations.

“Because of the many opportunities I have been given my perspective puts me in a position not just to be inspired, but hopefully to inspire others,” Sanders said.   “My Motto: ‘Every time I meet someone new in my life I hope and plan to leave them with one of the greatest feelings they'll feel in their life! To be happy!’”

Sanders currently hopes to attend a college next year where he will major in exercise science.  Many people have asked Sanders what sport he wants to play next year, and he currently is not 100 percent sure on that answer.  Sanders says that his recruiting has picked up greatly on track & field after last year, and his football views continue to rise.  He currently is going to let the recruiting process go by ear, and he remembers no matter what he chooses, God has his back.

Q & A w/ Creighton Sanders

Q:   Why are you still playing four total sports in your senior season, as most people would choose just one or two to stick with?

A:  Why would you give them up? It doesn’t make sense to give up on something you have worked so hard to accomplish. It is really all about my teammates and being committed to them and the success of our team. Each sport has a different feel to it and I really enjoy being a part of a common goal. Football is definitely a sport I have a lot of passion for when I play; my teammates are like-minded and that gets me hyped. Swimming I started as a way to get in shape for baseball, but soon discovered it is the hardest sport. My swimming teammates keep me grounded and have shown me what true dedication is really about; I want to pass that on to the under classmen. Baseball is the sport I have spent the most time playing and most would say is my best sport. I think Heights Baseball is loaded with talent this year and I want to see my team through for a run at a state title. I will be a 4-year varsity starter this year and that leadership will be important to our success as a team. Track is just fun. Track is the only sport I did not participate in as a freshman. I started cross country and track in middle school and have just always enjoyed the sport so I was grateful when I got together with Coach Topping and Coach Crosley and we figured out a way to make both spring sports work for me and the teams. It also keeps my mind and body in shape.


Q:  What is your favorite sport?
 

A:  This is a hard question to answer. Swimming is my least favorite for sure, let’s just get that out of the way. Football, baseball and track are a pretty even match for different reasons. If I have to pick one then it would be football. Why? There really is nothing like Friday Night Lights and the crack of the pads.

 

Q:  What sport have you done the longest?

 

A:  Baseball is the sport I have played the longest. I have played baseball year around with a USSSA Majors team for many years. This is the first year since the 4th grade I have not played fall baseball.  I started baseball in 1st grade and football in the 2nd grade.

Q:  Who inspires you to be the person you are?
 

A:  I have had the pleasure of having so many great role models; teachers, coaches, family & friends. I am blessed really. I have two people. My mom is really the one that pushes me to follow my dreams and not let outside influences get in my way. She inspires me by being kind and always working hard to give me opportunities to excel. She has taught me to always do the right thing. I am most inspired by my grandpa. He is retired from the US Air Force and always puts his family first. He is also easy to talk to and he will help anyone that is in need and willing to help themselves.  He has helped me so much.  Our many road trips are always educational. Grandpa is just a smart man. I think part of being a humble athlete is having respect for others. Because of the many opportunities I have been given my perspective puts me in a position not just to be inspired, but hopefully to inspire others.  My Motto: "Every time I meet someone new in my life I hope and plan to leave them with one of the greatest feelings they'll feel in their life! To be happy!"

Q:  I've seen you volunteering your time at the shoe drive and other things of such, what makes you want to do those things for others?

A:  I know how fortunate I am.  Helping others reminds me of just how fortunate. I get great joy from seeing other receive joy. Honestly my mom required me to commit to community service starting my freshman year. Basically because of my schedule I do not have time to work a regular part time job. My mom told me my job was to get good grades, be involved in school activities and be a good citizen. Sometimes I might me tired and don’t feel I have the energy for extra service hours, but I always find that I enjoy this time meeting and helping others. As a HOBY Ambassador, I have also made a commitment to serve others. You mentioned the shoe drive, Joanna Chadwick and the staff of Varsity Kansas are dedicated to Kansas athletes so giving back is part of being a good citizen. I try to do little things as time permits. I really like helping kids. I have volunteered with League 42 and I am currently a mentor for the Teen Hero Program. These opportunities allow me to meet great people. That brings me energy and fits one of our team covenants COURAGE: Do the right things! On the field, in the classroom, in the community.