Van Horn's Messick brothers get a final chance to play baseball together
Since they were Little League baseball players, Kobe and Korey Messick have dreamed of playing on the same Van Horn High School baseball team.
Kobe, a senior, and Korey, a sophomore, knew that dream could become reality in the spring of 2020 as they were both attending Van Horn and primed and ready to be teammates.
Then, well, everyone knows that happened.
"The pandemic, COVID, forced the cancellation of all spring sports and basically, everything in the country," Kobe said. "We were devastated, mainly because we had no idea what was going to happen.
"We had a summer full of questions and we didn't know if there would be school in the fall, if there would be any activities and if we would have the opportunity to play this spring because of all the changes and rules and restrictions."
Korey dreamed of playing with his best friend and older brother, but had another concern.
This was the season everyone at Van Horn had been waiting for in basketball, and Korey was the sixth man for a team that finished with a 20-10 record and a Class 5 state third-place trophy.
"I wanted to play basketball because I knew we were going to have a great team," the 6-foot-4 center said. "During the summer, Jaden (Monday, an all-state guard) and I were running sprints out on the track and everyone out there was looking at us like we were crazy.
"We got to talking and Jaden said, 'No one else is doing this, working this hard, that's why our team is going to special.' And he was right."
That work ethic is a big reason the Messick brothers have excelled in all aspects of being a Falcon.
The basketball season ended on a Friday in Springfield, and the following Saturday Korey played a doubleheader, pitched one inning with two strikeouts and had a hit and walk in three at-bats.
"Two of the best young men at our school," Van Horn activities director Chris Corrie said. "If you want to see what our school – in the classroom, on the field and in our community – is all about, just take a look at Korey and Kobe Messick. Their work ethic in everything they do is outstanding."
Their love of sports and their high school often dominates conversations at home.
"We're a sports family," said Kobe, who recently teamed with other members of the National Honor Society to have a one-day blood drive at Van Horn for teachers, administrators and students that exceeded all expectations.
"Our family loves sports. My dad (Jim) is a big sports guy and if you ever come over to our house, he and Korey and I are either watching sports or talking about it."
Jay Kolster, the longtime Van Horn baseball coach, believes the Messick family was simply meant to be a part of his Falcon family.
"I can't even begin to tell you what Jim had meant to our school and our program – he is very generous," Kolster said. "And Kobe and Korey are great players, and even better young men. If there is something good happening at Van Horn, they are going to be a part of it. And look what Korey did during the basketball season.
"They love their school as much as any players I've ever coached or been around."
So, where does that love come from?
"Van Horn helped create my identity and I can't imagine being part of any other school," said Kobe, who is 0-4 with a 5.54 ERA and .154 batting average. "When you talk about family, you're talking about Van Horn High School.
"It starts with administration and the teachers and the coaches and it is just part of being a member of any team or organization at our school. I honestly feel like I have been spoiled because I have been lucky enough, really blessed, to be a part of Van Horn the past four years."
Korey, who has thrown two no-hitters for Van Horn and owns a 2-1 record and 2.67 ERA an .324 batting average with three homers and 14 RBIs, agrees, adding, "Kobe and I talk about our Van Horn family, and then we talk about how special it is to be brothers on the same team – a dream come true. I missed out on my freshman season because of COVID, and that makes this season with Kobe and my Van Horn baseball family even more special.
"I know the best is yet to come, but it can't get much more special than this."
One game that will make this season even more special is at 1 p.m. Thursday when Van Horn meets William Chrisman at Kauffman Stadium in the annual rivalry series.
"How special is it to play with my brother at The K, and we're playing one of our biggest rivals?" Korey said. "That's what I was talking about – that's special."