Konner Scott: A Day in the Life

By Nick Goldwyn

[singlepic id=1124 w=320 h=240 float=left]Konner Scott is silent, in his hunched position on the starting block, in his final 200-meter freestyle swim of his High School career, dark blue goggles on his face; he looks as fixed as a gargoyle.  A few seconds before getting up on the starting blocks, the IHSA State finals announcer is calling out all of the names for the 200-meter finalists; he gets to Konner’s, pauses and then reads “Niles West senior, Scott Konner.” Even the mishap with his name does not faze Konner, whose focus doesn’t stray from the race ahead.

The race begins, and Konner shoots off the blocks as if shot out of a cannon. The “Seabear,” arms stretching out behind him, lunges towards the water. His form from an amateur’s perspective looks close to perfect, his hands (now in from of him) hit the water first, and the rest of his body follows. A split second later, he is completely underneath the water, with the other swimmers, swimming under the surface. Konner is not with the other swimmers when his head finally comes back to the surface, in fact he is ahead of them. Konner cuts through the water with a freestyle stroke as aggressive as it is beautiful. His arms come up and out of the water one at a time. Each time an arm emerges, Konner’s entire torso shifts almost perpendicular to the water, then he rotates back, digging the arm he just lifted out back through the water, starting to pull his other arm up as he does it. When the race is over, Konner bobs up and down in the pool, a look of pure, unfiltered satisfaction on his face; he has just placed third in state in the 200-meter freestyle, and he is anything but silent.

Photo by Becky Darling

It’s EXTREMELY DARK at 5 most winter mornings. But on this morning, the morning of the NWN’s day with Konner, like any morning during swim season, senior Konner Scott must force himself out of bed, get ready, and go to school with it still being extremely dark outside. As Konner puts it, “During the winter, which is the darkest, coldest, most depressing time of year, we have to get up at 5 a.m. every day.” His morning routine has to be done in almost complete silence, so as not to wake his parents, who are not up at this incredibly dark, ridiculously early hour.  After the short drive to school, he arrives in the nearly empty parking lot, where there are no screaming fans chanting his name, or asking for his autograph (at this point, they are still asleep, too). In their place is just a long, cold walk up to the school, a precursor to the start of his long, cold morning. After changing into their suits in the locker room, Konner and the rest of the Boys Swim Team are ready to begin their practice.

Konner, a senior captain in his last year, directs the other swimmers into the pool, saying little more than a word. On “dryland” days, Konner and the other seniors help lead the team in land exercises that will better prepare them for their time in the pool, but today is not a land day. Today is also not what the swimmers would call a true middle of the season practice, not a day when after getting out of the pool they can barely drag themselves to first period. No, today is an end of the season practice, a short practice, a tweak practice. A practice in which Konner and the rest of the team will work on tweaking whatever they need to tweak–their start off the block, their dolphin kick, anything that will give them that slight edge in the pool. During the course of the practice, Konner will crack a few jokes, say a thing or two to his friends and maybe even give a bit of advice to another swimmer on the team. But for the most part, Konner just swims.

Konner looks at home. In his seat, near the middle of his section in his first period class, Konner looks at home. The class is AP senior English, the time somewhere around 8:20, and even though he doesn’t talk (a lot) Konner still looks at home. The class is asked to take notes on Modernism, a topic that will coincide with their reading of a poem by T.S. Eliot.  Unlike most of the other students who groan at the thought of writing so early in the morning, Konner pulls out a small notebook, and with no hesitation begins to write. He answers a few questions Ms. DesJardins throws his way during the lecture, but for the most part Konner sits listening to everything that is said, and writing down everything that’s important. After first period, Konner is off to his second class of the day, another AP, this time AP French, where after taking a few minutes to talk to his friends in the language lab, he will complete his vocab packet, and then ask the Ms. Walvoord for more work.

Unlike the quiet, constantly working Konner I saw in his first two classes, Konner is a different kid in the hallways. Walking up the stairs to AP French, Konner stops to talk to senior Ramsan Younatham about Ram vs. and says hi to just about everyone else walking up or down the stairs. After French he jokes with me about how easy Consumer Ed is, and even has enough time to discuss with junior Patrick Melnick the extra credit on Melnick’s Math test. Melnick says that he ran out of time so he literally wrote that x was some number instead of finding it, which gets a chuckle out of Konner and a rebuttal of “I’d love to write that on a test someday, one that didn’t count of course.”

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After Consumer Ed, where he takes a test, his first in a day riddled with them, Konner is off to homeroom, where just like in the hallways, he is extremely talkative. Konner slips into the Literacy Center and immediately heads to the back, where a group of his friends have already gathered near the one lone table. At the table, senior swimmer Elliott Kerbel, senior gymnast Rafal Krolczyk, and senior Alexandra Romanelli are already talking about school. For Konner the constant talking during homeroom is normal, so he jumps right into the conversation. Elliott talks about the fact that because he is a senior, he has basically stopped trying in all of his classes, while Alexx tries ever so hard to figure out Konner’s secret to doing well on DBQ’s (which they will both have in two periods in AP Euro).

Konner talks to everyone at the table about everything: he tells Elliot that his senioritis is natural; Alexx that he doesn’t know how he does so well on the DBQ’s; talks to Rafal about which colleges he is considering; and eventually explains why I’m at the table, by saying that I’m his “stalker” for the day. The conversation shifts away from school to something that everyone at the table knows: video games. Konner tells me that I need to download an iPhone app called Tilt to Live (a game in which you are an arrow trying to avoid red dots), and Alexx informs me that it is the only game the guys play at lunch. In the final minute or two of homeroom, as Tilt to Live loads on my iPod, Elliott and Alex make their final jokes about their good friend Konner, about his constant Tilt-to-Live-ing, his nickname, and even the fact that he is being profiled in the paper, then they head out the door, and Konner and I head to AP Calc AB.

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Konner Scott is the perfect example of a student athlete. With his athleticism, intelligence, and his other talents, Konner has shown time and again that he is not only an excellent swimmer, but also puts the student in student athlete, and erases the dumb jock image from our minds when we think athlete. Athletic ability is in Konner’s blood; both his parents were athletes in high school, ( “My mom was a swimmer and my dad played basketball, football, track, and baseball”) and his little sister Edan (a freshman at West) is also an amazing swimmer, and is on the Varsity Girls Soccer team.

Konner began swimming at the age of nine, and played soccer for six years during his childhood. At West, Konner has gone to state, either with a relay team, or by himself every year, and has broken school record after school record. Outside of school, Konner swims for Northwest Aquatics year round, a team sponsored by District 219, and before Northwest, he swam for the Leaning Tower YMCA. Even though Konner is quiet in class, that doesn’t mean he isn’t intelligent.  He has been in honors classes ever since they have been available to him, over the summer he worked as a biology intern for Northwestern University, and next year he will attend the University of Pennsylvania, one of the best schools in the country, and swim for them.

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To go along with swimming and school, Konner has yet another passion: music.  He already has a song on iTunes, a YouTube channel devoted to his songs, and he is in a band with two of his senior swimmer friends (Elliott and Ricky Havansek) called Khlorine. He can play guitar (which he learned at 13), piano (which he started playing at four), trumpet, and trombone, and “I can get by on bass and drums.” Konner also added that even though music and swimming take up most of his time, he also has a couple other hobbies: eating ( as he put it “Enough to cripple a rhino” and “enough to kill a blue  whale”), art (which he was really into), and being able to solve a 7×7 rubik’s cube.

Konner seems relaxed, after finishing his partner quiz with senior Art Siriwatt (and not writing X is a number for the extra credit).  Deciding not to start the homework for AP Calc AB, he is having a conversation with his teacher (and me) about where he is going to attend school. Mr. Bravos is jokingly trying to convince Konner that even though he is going to Penn, he really wants to go to Notre Dame (where Bravos went). Bravos tells me about how he tried to get the class to bleach their hair, and shave their heads when Konner did, and how that didn’t work out.

The class flies by, and almost as soon as it began, it’s over and Konner is on to his next class, AP European History, where as promised there is an in-class DBQ waiting for everyone. Konner seems to be one of the only people in the class to get anywhere with his DBQ, and as the period ends Mr. Schwarz tells the class that because the next day is a senior ditch day, that he will either take the DBQ’s now or on Monday.

We are now at Konner’s locker where he is shoving all of the books and binders for his morning classes onto the middle shelf (no wonder why his bag looked so small). After grabbing what he needs for his afternoon AP Chem class, we are off to the Lit Center once again, this time so that Alexx can heat up her lunch in the microwave before heading into the lunchroom. Once in the café, Konner goes straight to the food to buy his lunch, a sandwich, milk, and a couple of yogurts. Then it’s back to the table so Konner can talk to his friends, eat his lunch, and eventually battle Ricky and senior CJ Dimaano for the top score in Tilt to Live. As Alexx so eloquently said during homeroom, “It’s all they do.”

The fun doesn’t end when the bell rings, because Konner gets to go to one of his best classes of the day, AP Chem with Mr. Heinz. Because Konner’s class is so far ahead of all of the other AP Chem classes, Mr. Heinz decides that today will be laid back. The class has a discussion that ranges in topic from what is happening with the school board’s new plan, to what everyone signed up for for Journey, and eventually to what junior Rishy Chacko would look like in a gospel choir. The class is full of laughs, and eventually learning, as Mr. Heinz not only participates in the class discussion, but also teaches the kids a little Chemistry.

After an exciting 8th period of study hall in the café, in which junior Daniel Melnick and fellow junior swimmer Ryan Miller joke with each other and try to get Konner off topic, and Konner works diligently on completing all of his homework, and one final trip to Konner’s locker, we (Konner, the rest of his relay team and I) head toward the gym where Konner will end his day.

Photo taken by Becky Darling

Our day ends in the pool hallway where Konner’s day began, but for now, instead of changing into a swimsuit, Konner is content to sit and read jokes off of his iPod. Around him now are his closest friends on the swim team, Elliott and senior Sam Stein sit to his left. Junior Stephen Giddens sits on his right. They make up most of his relay team, and have been coming to sit across from the pool doors during 9th period every day for almost a month now. Eventually they will need to get into the pool and work on their relay, but for now they sit and listen to Konner read jokes. After reading an especially long and not-so-funny joke, Konner becomes quiet, he waits for a second not saying anything, and all of the other guys become quiet too. Then after looking at one another they all crack up, and unlike this morning, Konner is anything but quiet.

Photos by Becky Darling