There were moments before Seth Gould’s senior season where the Rochelle guard questioned whether or not he should continue playing basketball for the Hubs.
Gould’s junior season ended abruptly when he suffered a serious knee injury during a home game against LaSalle-Peru. His frustrations grew after he chipped a bone in his foot over the summer, but a heart-to-heart with head coach Tim Thompson helped restore his confidence.
“I lost all of my motivation for the game and I didn’t want to go back because I was scared that I was going to reinjure myself,” Gould said. “Coach Thompson told me that I can’t be scared of getting hurt, and that I have to go out there and play my best. That’s what I tell myself every time I step on the court. Coach Thompson, Mr. [Mark] Lovell and my dad have all been there for me, and they’ve really helped me get through my struggles.”
Injuries have unfortunately carried into Gould’s senior season, but the versatile guard has given Rochelle’s backcourt a significant boost since recovering from a broken thumb he sustained during the first game of the season against Belvidere. He helped lead a second-half road rally over Ottawa this past month, scoring 14 points off the bench, and his all-around skills are helping the Hubs close the regular season playing arguably their best basketball of the year.
“I definitely try and bring an inside game to our team,” Gould said. “We have a lot of good shooters and I want to be the guy who can drive the ball inside and pass the ball out to our shooters. My coaches expect me to guard one of the best players on the other team, and they definitely need me to rebound the ball.”
Rochelle (17-11) has won 12 of its last 14 games, and the Hubs haven’t dropped a nonconference contest since Dec. 28, 2019. Gould, who’s one of only two players on the team in his third varsity season, said the team’s improved chemistry and ball movement have been most significant in helping overcome a disappointing 2-7 start to the 2019-20 campaign.
“We’ve been playing unselfish basketball,” Gould said. “We had a lot more isolation toward the beginning of the season, but we’ve had better ball movement and we’re playing as a team. I think this season has gone better than we anticipated it would. We knew we were going to have a limited number of seniors and we weren’t going to have many big men… I went through a rough stretch, but I think I’m getting my legs back and I think I’ve played pretty well.”
The Hubs will once again have a tough mountain to climb if they hope to win their first IHSA Regional Championship since 2009. Gould has seen and experienced Rochelle’s regional struggles first-hand, watching from the sidelines as the Hubs fell just short against top seed Rock Falls last season. Gould was a sophomore when Dixon eliminated Rochelle on a buzzer-beating layup, and as a freshman, Gould witnessed his older brother Caleb lead the Hubs to a 20-win season, only to drop a heartbreaker at home against Belvidere in the finals.
“We’re angry and we’ve been working hard every day,” Gould said. “We come into practice every day knowing that we haven’t won a regional in a long time.”
Gould has grown in many ways since he first learned to shoot a basketball while playing on a Fisher Price hoop with his brother Caleb. He started playing competitively when he was 5 years old, eventually suiting up for the Steward Eagles and local coaching legend Don Romes before entering Rochelle Township High School in 2016.
“My brother would give me the ball and tell me to go put it in the hoop,” Gould said. “I enjoy the competition, and there’s nothing like going out there and winning a game. I think my shooting has improved the most… Coach Romes has always supported me, and my dad has watched my play since I was little.”