COLUMN: Since the pandemic, the multi-sport athlete has been gaining momentum. |

The number of multisport athletes is growing every second.

And i love it.

Three, four, five, and sometimes even six sport athletes are gaining momentum as we turn the corner and head into high school’s 22-23 athletic season.

And we have the pandemic to thank for that, whether it was coaches feeling bad about athletes being taken away a season or two, or for whatever reason, coaches are open to letting a kid play multiple sports in one season allow. And the sports directors are also fully involved.

Also on the football and soccer pitches. Yes, you read it right.

Bath-Haverling’s AJ Brotz and Livonia’s Matthew Connor are two that come to mind who played football and soccer last fall.

Both were LCAA All-Stars in every sport.

In fact, Brotz was an all-state first-team wide receiver for the football team and also an all-state keeper for a football team that made it to the NYS title game.

Incredibly, Brotz got to play in a section soccer final and a NYS soccer final the same weekend.

It was a moment he will never forget.

“Playing football was definitely the most fun for me,” he said. “Usually in a school you see these two programs don’t get along and hate each other. In my case it was the complete opposite. Not only did I have two of the best teams supporting me along the way, I had two of the best coaches in Matt Ford and Matt Hill who got along and made sure everything ran smoothly for me. Without these two coaches I would not have had the opportunity of a lifetime. Both were supportive of me and every decision I made and understood when I had to show up late for a practice session or leave one early to catch the bus to a game. And of course they always pushed me to be the best athlete I could be.”

A recent Livonia graduate, Connor played six sports including soccer, football, wrestling, indoor and outdoor track, and lacrosse. He was a standout in all six.

Recent OA graduate and this year’s GLOW Male Athlete of the Year, Kam Cusmano was another five-sport athlete this year, winning titles in all five sports, including football, basketball, baseball, and indoor and outdoor track .

Winning five section team titles in one year is something I can guarantee has never been achieved before and I can almost certainly say it will never happen again. Incredible performance.

Byron-Bergen AD Rich Hannan is one of several coaches who also double as athletic director and says his bees have a lot of multi-sport athletes.

“I’m proud to say that almost all of our athletes are multi-sport athletes,” said Hannan. “Most of our kids play at least two sports, and many of them play three sports. I can think of very few kids who play only one sport, and not because they “specialize” in one sport, but usually because they are busy with other things like music or art or student council. That being said, I think we do a great job here at BB in promoting triple athletes. Our school has a huge prize on the night of the athletic awards ceremony and the kids are dying to get it. If we didn’t have triathletes in small schools like ours, we wouldn’t be able to field teams in most cases, and that’s a great opportunity for kids. Someone once told me that they took their kids to a bigger school in Monroe County because they had more athletic opportunities. I disagree with this idea simply because while they offer more teams than we do, most kids in a school like this don’t even play two sports. In these bigger, highly competitive schools, you almost have to specialize or you never make a varsity team.”

Hannan says his program talks to student-athletes each year about playing multiple sports.

“We emphasize that all of BB’s kids who ever advanced to (NCAA) Division 1 were all three sports and none of them specialized in any one sport. Giving them examples like Brandon Burke (UB) and Alyssa D’Errico (Penn St.) both excelled in Division 1, you couldn’t keep these kids off sports teams. They played every season they could and still found time to train and be great.

This season, BB had one athlete – David Brumsted – compete in four sports, including football, basketball, baseball and golf.

While serving as Pembroke AD that year, Ryan Winchip watched four of his athletes play four or more different sports, including Jayden Mast, who competed in five events including football, wrestling, swimming, track and baseball, and Lilly Senko, who Played soccer, swimming, unified bowling, unified basketball, and track and field.

Three others — Reagan Schneider (volleyball, basketball, unified basketball, and softball), Amelia Geck (swimming, unified bowling, unified basketball, and track and field), and Arianna Hale (football, unified bowling, unified basketball, and softball) — played sports in fours.

“Across the state, enrollment is declining in almost every school,” Winchip said. “Declining enrollments are making it harder than ever to field athletic teams, let alone all three tiers – modded JV and varsity. Multi-sport student athletes are more important now than ever. They help fill rosters and are often the star athletes in multiple sports. In small rural schools, athletic programs would cease to exist were it not for the help of student athletes who play multiple sports. I commend these individuals for the hard work and dedication they have to their athletic programs and careers.”

York AD Eddie Orman Jr., with one of the smallest enrollments in the GLOW region, says multisport athletes are “the heart and soul of small school athletic programs” and his program discourages their athletes from specializing.

“In my opinion, there is no greater gift that an athlete can give to their school than to play and devote themselves to a sport that may not be their primary love,” Orman said. “Specializing in sports means killing programs and robbing children of experiences and life lessons that really should be the primary focus of an educational sports program. At York we celebrate our three-sport athletes and encourage maximum participation to develop the mind, body and spirit of our student-athletes.

Avon AD Andy Englert loves that his district offers his modified kids up to four sports — during the winter season — including swimming, basketball, wrestling and cheerleading.

“We encourage our modified kids to play them all, too,” Englert said. “The small schools cannot do without the multi-sport athlete. It’s imperative that these kids don’t just focus on one sport and compete in multiple sports throughout their careers.”

Livonia AD Mark Kress says his Bulldog Country multi-sport athletes are generally the ones who lead by example.

“The success of our programs at Livonia is due to our multisport athletes, who tend to be better athletes who enjoy competing and are more tactically well-rounded and bring leadership qualities from other sports,” said Kress. “It’s a great opportunity to learn a variety of different sports, form several different friend groups and learn from a variety of different coaches. Kids who play multiple sports typically don’t suffer as much burnout as year-round individual athletes, are genuinely looking forward to the next season ahead, and tend to enjoy their overall athletic experience more. As districts across New York shrink, having multi-sport athletes is important to maintain the quality programs that so many of our local schools have. With a mental health epidemic in our society, having daily exercise, team camaraderie, and positive experiences that come from the diversity of different sports is a huge benefit.”

Attica AD Eric Romesser had three of his athletes compete in four sports this year, including Andrew Newell (football, basketball, golf, track), Maddie Robinson (volleyball, basketball, softball, track) and Cassidy Strzelec (football, volleyball, swimming, softball). ). ).

Romesser believes his experienced coaching staff deserves much of the credit for handing down these multidimensional athletes who transition from one season to the next.

“I think your best coaches push for their athletes to be multi-sport athletes for a variety of reasons,” Romesser said. “They know that the cross-training that takes place from one sport to the next makes their athletes better athletes. You don’t necessarily get that when you’re an individual athlete. In fact, you’ll find that athletes who practice a sport year-round often experience more injuries from the same repetitive movements. They need “rest time” from these overused movements. Athletes who play multiple sports also benefit from learning skills that carry over from one sport to the next. Hand-eye coordination, balance and endurance are three areas that are essential to most sports. College coaches love multisport athletes. Rob Koll (former Cornell wrestling coach and current Stanford wrestling coach) once told me that the NCAA had discussed and attempted to address an issue that they believed was hampering the quality of the athletes they competed on reached the level of Division 1 – the “single”. sports athlete.’ He explained that sometimes these individual athletes were not as motivated, trainable or as versatile as the multi-athletes of the past.”

Romesser is convinced that the more sport you do, the more versatile you are. And multisport athletes are a necessity.

“I have to believe that every small school in the state — let alone Section V — would agree that multi-athletes are a necessity for programs to survive,” Romesser said. “With declining participant numbers, it is often essential for the sustainability of the program that athletes practice several sports. If you look at many small schools, they are the same names you read about in the fall that you read about in the winter and spring seasons. These multi-athletes may also turn out to be your best leaders in your school as other student-athletes look to them as the well-known leaders.”

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