Be Versatile, Be Valuable - By Mike Lynch


Be Versatile, Be Valuable

Students return to school in less than a month, many are entering high school and in addition to adjusting to the academic and social rigors and challenges, many are faced with decisions about which, or how many, sports to play.

In this era there is considerable pressure to focus on one sport year round with the idea that it will give the athlete a "leg up" on competition when applying to colleges. But if you talk to any well respected college coach, she or he will tell you to play as many sports as possible. College coaches like the well rounded athlete who is competing every season.

Can I tell you how many times I have heard "I'm just focusing on hockey ( or basketball, or track etc) and going to lift weights in the off season." Can I also tell you how many parents tell me most of the off season is spent playing video games and lying on the couch.

Let me throw a few names at you to further illustrate my point of a well rounded athlete. Two years ago 128 NFL quarterbacks were polled and 95% of them played at least two sports in high school, 70% played three or more sports. Remember Mike Eruzione? Miracle On Ice? Scored the winning goal in the 1980 Winter Olympics? Played football, hockey and baseball at Winthrop High School and actually threw a no hitter in his senior season. Tom Glavine of Billerica High School won two Cy Young awards with the Atlanta Braves, was a five time 20 game winner, won over 300 games and is in baseball's Hall of Fame. Glavine played goalie for Billerica HS and was named the Massachusetts Player of the Year his senior season. Jordan Spieth played football, basketball, baseball AND golf. Current Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi averaged more than 25 points per game for his high school basketball team and scored over 1700 career points. In this years NFL Draft 26 of the 31 first round choices played more than one sport in high school. Top pick Jared Goff played basketball and baseball in addition to football for his high school in California. The number 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys (Ohio State) ran track and played basketball. Two of the most successful college football coaches, Nick Saban of Alabama and Urban Meyer of Ohio State actively seek out the multi sport athlete during the recruiting process.

When you play multiple sports you are more competitive, you are in better condition and you have more opportunities to learn how to be a winner as well as a good teammate. The choice is yours and if you play more than one sport, you may be headed for the college of your choice!