During the Rochelle Township High School football banquet this past fall, head coach Kyle Kissack shared some details of a private conversation he had with a particular student-athlete, one he could trust to emerge as a leader on and off the field.
That player was senior Gavin Ansteth, who stepped up this past season as a two-way starter and delivered not only for his coaches, but for his teammates as well. An Interstate 8 All-Conference First Teamer and Rochelle’s Most Valuable Player, Ansteth carried the ball 155 times for a team-high 720 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns during the 2019 season.
“I enjoyed the summer grind as well as all the fun and hard times we went through,” Ansteth said. “We were always a family, regardless if we won or lost. Through playing football at RTHS, I learned that treating others how I want to be treated can go a long way.”
Ansteth debuted on the varsity team his sophomore year, working into a reserve role as a junior before earning the starting fullback and inside linebacker positions as a senior. Ansteth steamrolled the Pekin Dragons in Rochelle’s 2019 season-opener, running for 137 yards and a career-best five touchdowns. On Senior Night, Ansteth was a nightmare for the Plano Reapers, totaling a season-high 176 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Ansteth’s accomplishments went beyond the gridiron, however. As a four-year wrestler, he became a starter as a sophomore and helped RTHS finish fourth in the IHSA 2A State Dual Championships. Ansteth went on to qualify for individual sectionals during his junior and senior seasons while reaching the IHSA 2A State Championships as a senior, finishing 28-14 overall.
On the baseball diamond, Ansteth played multiple positions including catcher and third base. He began earning varsity reps his sophomore season before breaking out his junior year, hitting .378 with three homers and 23 RBIs to earn an All-Conference Honorable Mention from the Northern Illinois Big 12. Ansteth, who plans to pursue a career as an iron worker for Area Erectors after high school, helped Rochelle win a share of the NIB-12 West in 2018.
“I enjoyed playing varsity baseball with all my friends that I played with when I was younger,” Ansteth said. “I learned that nothing is easy and if I want something, it won’t just be given to me. I’ve enjoyed the bonds and the friendships I have now through playing sports at RTHS.”