It was a tough decision for Park's Charlie Gorres.
During his junior year, he had to decide between two of his favorite sports.
Football or basketball?
The decision came at one of the lowest points in his career. Gorres was injured with tendinitis in both of his knees.
He had to take a break, and he had to decide whether that time off was the last part of the high school basketball season or during the AAU basketball season.
After discussing the pros and cons of each situation with family and coaches, Gorres decided to sit out the second half the high school basketball season. This would allow him to focus on AAU basketball and work on getting a college offer in basketball.
"It was tough to decide because I wanted to play every day," Gorres said. "I grew up with basketball and it continued to be my sport throughout my childhood."
Gorres just signed to play basketball at the University of Minnesota-Duluth this upcoming fall and it was a journey he will never forget. It took love, hard work and support for Gorres to reach this point in his life.
Gorres started playing basketball at a young age. He remembered that when he was 4 years old, he would play with his older sister's team at practice.
Once he made that first basket, he never wanted to stop. But he did stop during the fall season because Gorres started getting interested in football.
Gorres played flag football in second grade and then started tackle football in third grade. It didn't surprise Gorres that these two were his favorite sports because both run in his family.
"My family had played basketball and football during their childhood, so I grew up on the two sports," Gorres said. "I fell in love early in my years and I never wanted to stop playing."
Going into high school, Gorres never stopped playing either sport. The fall would be football, while the winter was high school basketball and spring/summer was AAU basketball.
It was a go-go mentality for Gorres, but with all that time on the field and court he continued to learn as a player.
"If you see Charlie now and Charlie a few years ago, the amount of growth is incredible," said Park head coach Mike Weah. "He just learned a lot about the game and wanted to push himself to higher expectations each season."
Weah and Gorres formed a strong relationship because Weah coaches Gorres every season in high school. That relationship started off with a realization that Gorres and Weah still laugh at today.
When Gorres was a freshman, he was playing off the bench with the varsity team. One day, Gorres was sent back down to the freshman team to practice.
At practice, Gorres went up for a layup and completely missed the shot. The ball went off the backboard and Gorres started laughing due to the mistake.
Weah didn't appreciate the laugh and pulled Gorres aside. He told Gorres that those shots aren't something to laugh at and made the team do some runs to realize it's a team sport, so everyone suffers the consequences.
"That was a moment I needed to realize that I could be so much better if I really focused on my game," Gorres said. "That's exactly what I did after that moment. Even though I was slightly scared of coach Weah after that mistake, I needed that to build on my mentality."
Gorres played year-round during his sophomore year, but his junior year was a tough season. About halfway through his junior year, he experienced a lot of pain in both of his knees. That's when he found out that he had tendinitis in both of his knees, and the pain was so severe that he had to make his decision of which sport he wanted to pursue in college.
"It was tough, but basketball had been my love all my life and I knew that was the right decision," Gorres said. "I was glad that I got to continue playing football, though, in my senior year."
The AAU season was big for Gorres during his junior year because he had to get some looks from college coaches. After the first few weekends of tournaments, Gorres had received a handful of offers to local Division II basketball programs. He was happy to see that the hard work paid off and was going to live out his dream.
One of the offers he received was from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Gorres remembers going up to the campus for a visit one day with one of his friends that was offered, too.
They went up there and played a basketball game with the players on the team. Gorres said that they all clicked with each other and when the two got back into the car to head home, they both knew they were going back to Duluth.
As for the pain in his knees, it continued.
"The pain is always there in knees," Gorres said. "I've just learned how to deal with it and play through the pain."
Gorres said that some days it's better than other days, but the dull pain is still constant in his knees. Usually after a game, he'll ice his knees and get ready for the next practice or game.
Gorres is also really close with the Park athletic trainer, Matt Frericks, as he helps with stretches and making sure he's able to play each game of the season.
"I can't believe Charlie can perform at that high of a level each game with that amount of pain that he's in," Weah said. "It's unbelievable, but it just shows you how much he loves this game."
Gorres is grateful for all the support from the Park community and he knows he couldn't have made it without the help of his coaches along the way.
He's had mentors along the way that have developed his skills to a higher level, including his traveling coach, Andy McPherson, who coached Gorres in seventh and eighth grade, and coach Weah.
Gorres said that without their help, he wouldn't be seeing the court as a point guard. He also wouldn't be developing his jump shot and finding open players on the court.
"I'm so lucky to have these coaches in my life," Gorres said. "It's been a fun journey with them by my side and helping me each day."
Gorres is excited to become a Bulldog next fall and start a new journey as a basketball player. He knows it'll be different not strapping on the pads and helmet in the fall, but he's excited to get on the court in Duluth and begin his dream of playing college basketball.
Even though he's excited about the future, Gorres has a little over two months left in his high school basketball career and that's what he's focusing on right now. Gorres wants to soak in every moment with his teammates and coaches.
"These last four years in high school have been the best four years of my life," Gorres said. "It'll be hard to see this journey come to an end, but it'll be exciting to open a new chapter in the fall at UMD. Go Wolfpack, and go Bulldogs!"