Athletic Triple Threats
Morgan Co. High School recognizes three-sport athletes
By Jonathan Branch
Eleven student-athletes at Morgan County High School didn’t have much free time during the 2011-2012 school year.
Because of their commitment, MCHS recently took a moment to honor a dying breed when athletic director Steve Cisson recognized those students for playing three different sports in one school year.
“My hat is really off to those kids who compete in three sports,” said Cisson.
Three-sport athletes, once a common sight in high schools across America, are now an ever-shrinking population. Many students today focus their efforts on just one or two sports or solely academics.
“The three-sport athletes are very special to me because they commit most of their athletic time to their school,” Cisson said. “They spend a lot of time after school, almost every day, being an athlete. In today’s sports world, it’s harder to be a three sport athlete because it requires so much of your time—in season and out of season.”
Don’t tell that to the 11 students at MCHS who, like Thorpe, committed themselves to the balancing act that comes with playing three sports.
After all, Shakarah Boswell knows about having little free time. Between softball, basketball and soccer, she was busy most of her senior year at MCHS. When Boswell found a spare moment in November, she managed to squeeze in a sixth place finish at the Region 4-AA cross country meet.
Her classmate, Marcus Brown, went from the gridiron to the hard court before grabbing a pair of spikes and running track.
The same can be said for Stewart Spence and Carter Schultz, who both spent the afternoons of their junior year rotating between basketball, football and wrestling.
Gladdie Kreimann, Zach Stone and Hannah Hartney barely stopped pumping their arms and legs this school year. In the fall, the three ran cross country. In the winter, they switched to swimming. By the spring, they were back outside, running track.
Matt Vill joined those three running cross country and swimming, but in the spring, he hit the links with the golf team.
Sophomore Caroline Jones spent Friday nights in the fall along the sidelines as a varsity cheerleader. She spent Saturday mornings in the fall running in cross country meets. In the spring, she was busy winning the Region 4-AA championship with the rest of her tennis teammates.
Mikayla Taylor spent her sophomore year playing every sport that involves a net—volleyball, soccer and basketball. Jack LeClair was a part of the wrestling team that finished fourth in AA, while being a member of the cross country and soccer teams.
Cisson, who served as head coach for softball, girls basketball and golf during his tenure at MCHS, stressed the time commitment it takes to play three sports.
“When you’re involved as much as these folks are, you have a lot of things that come into play,” said Cisson. “You have to budget your time better so they can keep up with grades and lives with their family.”
The athletic director also emphasized the physical demand that comes with playing multiple sports.
“Physically it’s very demanding,” Cission said. “If you go from football to wrestling, you’re talking about two different types of being in-shape. They may have to condition their bodies differently for each sport that they’re in, and that can be very difficult.”
More importantly, in order to play sports, the athletes must focus on academics to remain eligible for each semester.
“It takes special people to do that because they have to keep up with their studies,” said Cisson. “Most of our three-sport athletes are very good students. It’s not like they do more sports and their grades go down.”
In fact, Cisson points out that many of the athletes are also superlative students.
“If you look at our honor roll, you’ll see many of the same names,” said Cisson, in reference to the list of three-sport athletes.
Cisson, however, admits it is not easy to play multiple sports with the way things work in the realm of athletics these days.
“A lot of times, the three-sport athlete, when they’re not competing with the school, they’re competing outside of school in AAU or venues,” said Cisson. “The three-sport athletes have decreased a lot because of the extensive training that one sport sometimes requires. Sometimes kids are led—sometimes falsely—to believe that if they don’t train and send all attention to one sport, they’ll miss out on a college scholarship in that sport.”
Coaches at MCHS work with athletes to enable those students to have an opportunity to play different sports, Cisson said.
“There has to be a lot of flexibility and willingness for coaches to work with each other and these athletes that are involved in multiple sports,” Cission added, “Our coaches are generally good at letting students participate in other sports. They see the value of an athlete staying in-shape. Some sports require more training and physical condition than others, so the coaches have to work with players and possibly allow them to miss training to attend another sport.”
Cission encourages his coaches to continue that system in hopes that athletes take a liking to more than one sport.
“Playing as many sports as you can opens up opportunities to get a scholarship in more than one sport,” said Cisson. “Playing multiple sports gives them more varied experience. It gives them more possibilities. If they are a good enough athlete, they can have scholarship opportunities in more than one sport.”
Regardless of sport, Cisson believes athletics are a quintessential part of a high school career and can enhance a student’s high school career.
“I think that teenage kids need to have the opportunity to experience everything they can academically and athletically,” said Cisson.
As for Boswell and her fellow three-sport athletes, they have taken advantage of those opportunities, even if the cost was losing free time along the way.
Printed in the June 7, 2012 edition