All the time and physical toil takes a toll on the body of a young athlete when it comes to playing multiple sports over the course of a year.
Do it over and over again, year after year, despite the strength and pliability of youth, there is no guarantee that the physical commitment and sometimes savagery they put themselves through won’t make them worn down to feel older than their parents at times.
So how do the athletes feel about the commitment? Leavenworth High’s Arik Parker, Alexis Cole and Samantha Murphy, Lansing High’s Eliott Wilk and Kennedy Farris and Lansing resident and Christ Prep student Aaron Martin took the time to answer some questions that dig deep into why they go through it all.
What is the hardest aspect of committing to more than one sport?
Cole: “I play soccer all year-round. So while playing more than one sport at a time, sleep is definitely at the bottom of necessities during double-sport days. I have around two to four hours of homework each night, sometimes more. So getting back at 9 p.m. on a school night isn't the most fun thing. It is hard to balance playing two sports being in high classes and doing all the homework to go with it, but in the end the result pays off.”
Farris: “The hardest aspect of committing to more than one sport is finding the right coaches that are willing to work with you, because if you have three practices in one night and there's only one of you, then you obviously can't make it to all three things. I have had three very flexible coaches that I played for throughout my years of playing multiple sports. And I still do to this day. When I usually work out, they aren't really specified for each sport. I am usually working out to just get stronger and faster than I already am. I don't sleep very much as well. I usually average about five to seven hours of sleep every night. I usually go from practice to practice and by the time that's done I'm getting home around 11 p.m. plus shower, eating, homework, etc. But it is all worth it in my opinion.”
Martin: “Time management might be my biggest struggle. I'm normally always busy whether it be school, work, practices, and the leftover time I do have I like to work out to help me get better. With all this I'll fall behind on chores, homework and even sleep.”
Murphy: “The hardest aspect is probably time management. If you happen to have both practices at the same time one day, you’ll have to run around in circles to talk to each of your coaches, and see where you need to go for the day, or which would be more important. But sleep and homework can tie along with time management. With middle school/high school sports, the coaches will not make you stay up practicing until 2 in the morning. There’s no way, and I personally have never seen that happen. You have more than enough time after practice to shower, eat dinner and do your homework. When it comes to game/meet days, that is a different story but it is all possible. Plus, if you talk to your teachers, usually they will extend the due dates for your homework. You’ll also get enough sleep, so don’t think you’ll be up for hours on end. Now when it comes to social life and doing multiple sports, I’m not going to say you will not have a social life because you will. Your sport, team, coaches will be your social life. A lot of people think that’s lame when it really isn’t. You’re meeting and befriending so many new people, and winning games, or medals at meets, and eating with your team afterward is a lot better than even thinking about going to a party.”
Parker: “The hardest parts of committing to more than one sport I would say is managing your school work and having a social life. Having to balance out the time after practice or games for things like homework and maintaining a social life is pretty challenging because it’s not like when you only do one sport and after the season you can just make up school work and go out with friends. You are constantly busy and it can be overwhelming at times.”
Wilk: “I think the hardest aspect of playing more than one sport is probably the loss of a social life. Playing multiple sports cuts out a majority of my social life due to all of the different practices and traveling that I have to do, for instance, for competitive baseball. It's just one of the small sacrifices that I have to make in order to do what I love. Being fully committed to a sport, let alone more than one, does take time management in regards to school work and school projects, but I think I have figured that out pretty well with a 4.0 GPA to show for it.”
Why do you play more than one sport? How many different sports have you/do you play?
Cole: “I play more than one sport because I like a variety. I love sports. So I'm going to try all of them I can. My freshman year I played volleyball, basketball and soccer. My sophomore year I played tennis, basketball and soccer. Sports definitely benefit each other and that's what's great about it. The negative to it is it's hard to focus on one sport, so going into my junior year I have to start prioritizing what I want to play.”
Farris: “I play more than one sport because I tend to get bored easily doing the same thing over and over. I like to have a variety of things to do. And it gives me something to do all the time and keeps me out of trouble. I have played up to four sports at one time. I played volleyball, basketball, soccer and powerlifting. Playing three or four sports at one time helped me to be better at each and every sport which some people may not agree but it's usually true. I probably wouldn't be as good of an athlete if I didn't play multiple sports. Playing multiple sports at one time hurt me when it came down to me being sore and tired and wanting to have friends. But I chose to play them all and it helped me in the long run.”
Martin: “I play four sports: soccer, basketball, track and indoor soccer. I also have played football and baseball as well. I play multiple sports so I can be the best athlete I can be. Although playing all these sports are very tiring, they keep me busy and it gives me a challenge.”
Murphy: “I play more than one sport because I love being an active person and I love being on the move. I love to win and meet new people. In high school, I have played five sports. Not all at the same time. I have played up to three in one year, not to mention spending time practicing for debate and forensic tournaments. In addition to these sports, I spend the year training for the annual Miss Leavenworth County Pageant. I think multiple sports helps more than hurts you. Being active helps you focus more, and helps with memory. You might be sore one day, but you will still feel great and energetic. It can hurt when you get lazy. You can’t worry about only sports. You have to keep up with your classes and homework. A lot of people who do multiple sports get lazy with their academics. The way I see it, in high school you can’t compete if you have an F, and if you constantly fall behind in class, it is really easy for your grades to drop. If you love sports and love what you do then you will keep up with your academics because you don’t want to be told you can’t get on the bus because your grades are low.”
Parker: “I played more than one sport because it helped me stay in shape year-round. I met a lot more people, and it also helped the school year go by a lot faster. Always being in-season kept me in shape. As soon as I finished football I got one week off before I started training for powerlifting, and depending on when state powerlifting was, I was either already in track season or about to start. After state track, it was on to summer workouts for football season. I think always being busy hurts when you start to get burned out and need a break.”
Wilk: “I play more than one sport because being active, as well as competing and being part of a team, is important to me and I want to participate in as many as I can while I can. Right now I play football, baseball, and powerlifting, but at one point earlier in my life I played football, baseball, soccer and basketball. It helps with staying in shape and keeping up my competitive nature all year round.”
Do you ever wonder if you could have been better if you only played one sport?
Cole: “I definitely have thought what would've happened if I only played soccer sooner. Would I be better? Would I be more excelled in the sport? If I had more time, could I have improved myself earlier? I soon realized that this wasn't necessarily true. I was introduced to the fact of how sports complement and benefit each other. I believe that the other sports have allowed me to excel in places that maybe I couldn't have if I only stuck with soccer my whole life. Basketball has definitely made me a better defender as well as able to quickly read what my opponent's move is going to be. Tennis has allowed me to gain more focus and stay on my toes and be ready. Sports benefit each other.”
Farris: “Actually, I don't wonder what it would've been like if I would've played just volleyball or just soccer. I wouldn't change that at all because I think I would've been bored with just one sport. Actually, when I was about 11-13 years old, I hated volleyball. All I wanted to do was play soccer. I kind off just played because my sister did and I had already made a commitment to my team. Soccer was my love until I was probably 14-15. Then I fell in love with volleyball. I feel that playing multiple sports is what makes people good athletes. It helps you to be better at your other sports and to be more athletic because you are used to different moves.”
Martin: “Basketball is my favorite, and also the one I am best at. I think the other sports I play contribute to my performance in basketball by building speed, athleticism and coordination.”
Murphy: “Everyone has a favorite sport they enjoy to watch and or play, but let me say this, there is no such thing as ‘could have been better.’ There is always room for improvement, you can always get better with what you do. Practice makes perfect, that’s the saying. My favorite sport would have to be track though. I love sprinting. It gives you this amazing rush. I think doing more sports is better though because you can be working on agility for one then endurance for another, and you can slap both of them together and use them both for either. You’ll just have to be better at time management and practices.”
Parker: “I excelled at powerlifting mostly. I do believe if I only focused on that I could have been better in a sense of all the gains and progress I was making wouldn’t have been slowed or lost with practicing for another sport since you can’t train as hard in-season without being more injury prone.”
Wilk: “Baseball is my favorite sport for sure, but I do wonder sometimes if I could be even better if I wasn't involved with all of the others. I do feel like the other different sports have contributed positively in their own ways that you might not always think of such as speed, upper body strength, stamina and endurance.”
Saturday we will continue with the athletes and look into causes for burnout, who should specialize in sports and would they change anything they’ve done so far.