When life handed Ryan Witt lemons, he figured out a way to make lemonade.
Running is a passion for the Hebron sophomore, who had to find a way to fill the void when the knee condition ostiochondritis dissecans sidelined him during track last spring.
"I didn't realize how much I missed it until it was gone," he said.
To help pass the time and stay in touch with the sport, Witt started a website about high school cross country in the area. He took a computer class as a freshman, learning how to use software he needed to launch www.nwirunner.weebly.com.
"It's crazy how everything came together," he said.
The site has 35 members -- 36 once I join -- and was recently nearing 7,000 views. It is largely a self-sustained endeavor, though Witt, 15, gets help from Wheeler boys coach Luis Guillen, one of the founders of Indiana Runner.com, and John Borman of the Northwest Indiana Ridge Runners, who assists him on keeping up to speed with the Valpo area.
The site, which features five conferences, includes polls, predictions (something he'd started doing around the team last year), results, a forum and workout ideas. Witt also put together a video to go with a write-up on the Fourth of July Rotary Ramble race in Hebron.
He spent four or five hours a day during the summer on the site to get it up and running. With school back in session, he's cut his time in half.
Rest assured, Mom, Ryan's getting his homework done first. He promises.
One of the Hawks' top runners by the end of his freshman season, Witt never had injuries prior to the condition manfiesting itself during a track race.
"My leg swelled up," he said. "I couldn't move at all."
Witt thought he'd be fine after some ice and rest, but it didn't turn out to be that simple. He had to have a piece of floating bone from his femur put back in place and three screws inserted into his knee cartilage. The surgery put him out of commission for the summer. He was cleared to begin running again Tuesday, and plans to be back in action as soon as he can.
"When I was missing it the most, that's when I had the most people around me to support me," he said.
Witt's dad Tom was a Hebron standout back in his high school days and his uncle Bob is Boone Grove's boys coach.
"I didn't really have an option," Witt said. "My dad was like, 'You're running.' But as I started to get better, I caught on to how much better an individual sport is with the team aspect. You can showcase yourself."
Witt assures his followers his return to running won't affect the site. He plans to give his personal perspective on courses and races as he runs them. But no, he doesn't plan to wear a helmet cam for a live podcast.
At least not yet.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.