Honesty and determination are not qualities that found senior Xavier Kurth, they are qualities he adopted.
The adoption of these traits does not stop at Kurth’s Nike basketball shoes, as he manages to carry and spread them both on and off the basketball court.
Kurth, a physical education major and a guard on Northwest’s basketball team, says he learned his love for sincerity from two of his most devoted teachers: his grandmother, who he knows as mamaw, and his mother.
“My mom raised me as a single parent and everything I am is because of her,” Kurth said. “She taught me to always be a good person no matter who is watching, because what you do in the dark comes to light. Treat people the way you want to be treated.”
Though his mother taught him the ways of sincerity, mamaw was the one who cemented in his ideals of honesty.
“She’s real low key the way she goes about things, but if I ask her something, she is always honest,” Kurth said. “I’ve never had a moment where she’s not upfront and honest with me, even if sometimes it drives me nuts how truthful she is.”
Taking every word of advice, Kurth prepared for college, ready to leave his home in St. Joseph. He knew going in he wanted to play basketball, but being recruited was not his top priority. What mattered most to Kurth was finding a home and environment capable of meeting the high bar of authenticity he had grown up with.
Kurth says he was recruited first by Missouri Western, but the town and school didn’t mix well enough for him. Fittingly, Kurth found what finally drew him to Northwest was how genuine everyone was.
“Nothing seemed fake, like everyone in town was about Northwest and like everything you do stems off Northwest,” Kurth said. “Everyone knows that when you think about Maryville, you think about Northwest. When you pass through St. Joe, you may not even know there is a college there, but when you pass through here, it’s obvious.”
Kurth has gained a lot of knowledge while in school, both about basketball and himself. He says he always knew he wanted to coach high school basketball even before college, but figuring out how to achieve his dream was a lot more complicated than he had originally thought.
“I kept telling my mom, ‘I can do this,’” Kurth said. “Going through school taught me how important teaching was if I wanted to be a coach. The dream started in high school, but really got emphasized in college.”
Kurth traveled through college with blinding speed, but not without stopping to think about where he was going every now and then. One of his favorite quotes comes from his high school coach, Chris Neff.
“‘It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it,’” Neff said, according Kurth. “I live everyday by that. If I have a bad day and if I am in a bad mood, I can’t let that affect everybody else. I don’t want to put out bad vibes. I want to be that person you can go to that helps make your day better.”
Over the last four years of Kurth’s basketball career he’s managed to sustain too many injuries for him to count. He says these injuries are more aggravating than anything, but his coach’s quote always rings like a buzzer in his mind when injuries or losses get him down.
“You work all summer and you work so hard on your game, so when it comes time to play you feel so confident,” Kurth said. “Then when you get those injuries you’re forced to backtrack almost because you have to just sit there and watch. But it’s like starting at the 20 yard line while everyone else is at the 50; you just have to catch up and build back up that confidence.”
Through all of his yearly injuries and figuring out his life’s game plan, the 2016-2017 basketball season finally rolled around. Something was different this year than previous years though.
Win after win, Kurth and the rest of the players scored their way to the top as a team. Then after all of their hard work, came a national championship victory. All of the moments Kurth had figured out and worked past paid off in what he says to be one of the biggest highlights of his life.
“With the season we had last year, to finally come together, get that end goal and get past that sweet 16 hump, I don’t think I’ve ever had a feeling like that day,” Kurth said. “It was so happy and energetic, it makes the hard work during the summer and offseason worth it.”
Some of the most discouraging moments in Kurth’s life led to this moment as well, as he reflects on some of the near wins he had to watch slip through the cracks at the last second. So after going through high school and college play, the win tasted that much sweeter.
Student athletes no doubt deal with a bit of a balancing act when it comes to school and sport. Kurth always chooses to put school first, as his road to becoming a coach is now closer than ever. Even so, making time to cool down and relax has always been something Kurth knows is necessary.
What he chooses to do with as his stress reliever though, is a bit different than what it is for most people.
“Between school and basketball I obviously tend to get pretty stressed, but that’s where writing music comes in,” Kurth said. “None of them are published, like, I’m not J. Cole or Drake or anything, but I do it on the side just to have something to do.”
Kurth has taken the majority of his life to learn who he is and it has led to sincerity, a passion for coaching and an earned national championship victory. Now, with teaching and coaching in his sights, there is little doubt Kurth will manage to pass along the same ideals he adopted so long ago.