Hess excels at football, baseball

Tom Batters
Alex Hess

Anyone who wants to get in touch with Alex Hess this summer might want to get up really early in the morning.

Hess, the junior catcher who led the Eureka College baseball team in just about every hitting category in the spring, also plays tight end for the red Devils’ football team.

Oh, and he works full time, and carries a full class schedule, too.

“It’s not as difficult as it sounds,” he said. “You just have to manage your time, and stay motivated to get everything done.”

Hess, a Washington native, lifts weights at Five Points Washington in the mornings, works at the Washington Park pool, and volunteers as a coach for the American Legion baseball team.

Soon, he will divert most of his attention toward getting ready for the football season.

His college football career, however, was put on hold for a couple years, and was reignited last year under first year Eureka College coach Kurt Barth.

After graduating from Washington Community High School, Hess went to Illinois Central College to play baseball.

“I missed football so much. Fortunately, my high school coach (Darrell Crouch) was good friends with Coach Barth, and he suggested that I come play both sports at Eureka. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Hess hit .338 and belted 13 home runs and 44 RBIs (all team highs) for the Red Devils last spring.

He said he had never been a power hitter in the past, but his rigorous strength and conditioning program for football helped inflate his baseball stats.

“I only hit a couple home runs a year before, but lifting weights and keeping in football shape helped me have some more power,” he said.

He said strapping on the football pads after a two-year hiatus was “eye-opening.”

“That was quite an adjustment,” he said. “I hadn’t touched a football since high school, and suddenly I was playing again. The speed of the game is so much faster in college. I had to get into football shape really fast.”

Hess said he is looking forward to the football season, and he expects the Red Devils to improve on last year’s 4-6 record.

Sam Durley, a Eureka High School graduate, will take over as the starting quarterback this year.

“Sam and I have become good friends,” Hess said. “We can’t stop talking about how excited we are for this season.”

The Red Devils open the season Sept. 4 at home against Benedictine.

Past and future...

Growing up in Washington, Hess said he admired Grant Uftring, a standout three-sport athlete for the Panthers.

“He was a really good athlete, and I always looked up to him,” he said. “I still wear his number (18) to this day.”

Hess started playing football in fifth grade. He went to all the Panthers games and dreamed of playing under the lights someday.

When he was in sixth grade, he suffered a fractured skull in a car accident. He could not play sports for about a year.

He recovered and played baseball, football and basketball until his sophomore year when he dropped basketball to focus on the other two sports.

He was the starting catcher for the Panther baseball team that finished third in the state in 2007.

“That was, by far, my most favorite high school memory,” he said. “That was an awesome team.”

Hess is majoring in business administration at Eureka. He said he would like to pursue a master’s degree in sports management after he graduates.

“I would definitely like to stay involved with sports in some way,” he said. “I might even become a coach. I love teaching sports to younger kids.”