The Press Newspaper
If you were a standout athlete in one particular sport, would you want to stop playing other sports and focus on your one specific talent?
That's the question facing a lot of high school athletes these days.
It's reasonable why someone would want to focus on just one sport in the hopes of increasing their chances of receiving a scholarship to play the sport in college.
If you are really considering narrowing your focus on one sport, you have to weigh the odds — and the percentage of high school athletes who receive college scholarships are not so good, and the percentages of those who eventually turn professional are far less.
Plus, there are benefits that come with playing two or three sports in high school, for you and your school.
Benefits could include not getting burnt out by playing one sport and having to focus on that year-round, playing different sports and gaining a bevy of enriching experiences, and working different parts of your body to help build a more well-rounded physique.
Four area athletes, three of whom have scholarships to play sports in college, say there are pros and cons.
Oak Harbor alumnus A.J. Cecil, who just completed his first year as a relief pitcher on the University of Findlay baseball team, says he benefited from playing football, basketball and baseball in high school.
"(Playing multiple sports) helped me to be a better competitor," Cecil said. "When you're on the mound, it's your will against the other guy's.
"It was great to play a different sport every season. It helps to develop rivalries with other schools and players. I knew that if we didn't get (a certain school) in football that we might get them back in basketball. And I got to play sports with a bunch of my friends. I got to play two sports apiece with Mark (Konieczny) and Austin (Wiegand).”
Cecil, a first-team All-Sandusky Bay Conference selection in baseball four times and an all-league performer in football and basketball, set two school records on the gridiron as a receiver. He credits playing three sports with helping him to stay in shape and improve his footwork. He does acknowledge, however, that there were times when he thought about the benefits that would come from him focusing more on baseball. But Cecil was able to stay on top of his game by playing American Legion baseball during the summer and attending showcases.
"The extra time in the (autumn) set me up to be in such a better place in the indoor season, because I don't have to spend the extra time getting back," Bryer said. "I'm constantly progressing and I don't have any downtime and it's an extra four months to get better. I can even get creative and work on extra stuff that you don't have when (you're playing football). I give a lot of credit to my success to the indoor season and to how much I worked in the summer and the fall."
Bryer focused on throwing under the direction of the University of Findlay coach Justin Carvalho, but Bryer says he also avoided the wear and tear that comes with playing a rugged sport like football.
"Football practice takes so much out of you," said Bryer, who was second in the Division II state high school meet in the discus in 2012. "Constantly getting hit, bruising, you're spending time having to recover, taking care of bumps and bruises. By not playing, you don't have to worry about that stuff. And there's the mental part of learning that takes so much out of you, too.
"Now that I've gone through it and seeing the progression I've made, there's no way I would go back and change things. I do miss some of the ‘friendships stuff’ and hanging out with your buddies. Being the No. 3 nationally-ranked weight thrower during indoor season was important," Bryer said.
Genoa senior Ciara Albright, who is set to play basketball at Columbus State Community College next year, played softball and basketball for four years and competed in volleyball for two years as well. She said that she considered not playing softball this year to focus more on basketball.
"I considered it because you don't get better than everyone else in the season, you get better in the offseason," Albright said. "I would have had a lot more time to focus and improve on (basketball). But I knew I would regret not playing softball my senior year."
She said that she understands why someone would choose to focus on one sport year-round.
"I definitely understand because when you have a passion for that, all you want to do is get better and better every day at that one sport," Albright said. "But it's hard to quit something you've always done. Genoa always has a good reputation when it comes to sports, I feel as if it's not just separate teams, were all a family."
Albright said that she played softball during the summer and would attend open gyms to shoot hoops. And during basketball season, she'd hit in the cage a little bit and try to shoot hoops occasionally during softball season.
Cardinal Stritch Catholic senior Jake Empie, who played primarily basketball and baseball, decided to play soccer during his senior season. But it was football that he says he regrets not playing.
"People would always ask me if I was going to play football, and now that I look back, I wish I would've played," Empie said. "I think it would've helped me stay in shape more than soccer, so there's that part in me that wishes I had played."
Empie also understands how playing one sport for 12 months per year can be a good thing.
"I think that if you play one sport, it gives you that drive to win because you're focusing on it so much and working hard to get better."
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