‘Triple threat’ athletes balance varied sports

From its thirty-two athletic sports to its wide array of clubs, it is no doubt that the Saint Viator community has something to offer for everyone. The high school experience is characterized by being busy and involved, and high school students are constantly being encouraged to participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible. But at what point can this involvement interfere with an athlete’s passion and performance between multiple sports?

“Triple threat” athletes—those who excel in three sports—are admired at all athletic levels from amateur to professional. From a high school student-athlete’s perspective, playing a sport in every season increases involvement in a school community and looks great on a college application. However, it is inevitable that playing multiple sports will lead to conflicts, not only in an athlete’s daily schedule but also in his or her athletic passion. These conflicts might look different for an athlete who prioritizes one sport and uses the other sports solely to supplement their training versus an athlete who enjoys all three sports equally and is not particularly serious about a single one. Senior Lauren Hunt, who plays golf and dances both at school and at a studio, fits this second description.

“My passion for [both golf and dance] stays consistent throughout the seasons because I truly enjoy doing them [equally],” said Hunt. “Sometimes they do become stressful and I feel overworked…but the outcomes are what make it enjoyable.”

Hunt reflects on the successful seasons she has experienced the past four years being a part of her golf team, dance team, and dance studio and is grateful for her decision to involve herself in multiple sports. Since the golf and sideline dance seasons both occur in the fall, however, she frequently runs into scheduling conflicts and is faced with the decision of which sport she should prioritize.

“Playing multiple sports at once becomes…a balancing act,” said Hunt, “not only with my sports and studio practices but also with schoolwork.”

Sophomore Kyli Ziebka, who plays golf, basketball, and both club and school soccer, does have a clear winner as to which sport she prioritizes.

“I definitely [choose] soccer as my favorite and highest priority of my three sports,” said Ziebka. “[But] just because it is my top sport does not mean that I can just ditch all my other training. Balancing two very intense sports like soccer and basketball is a challenge, but I managed to make it work and was able to attend the majority of both.”

Luckily, our Saint Viator community is filled with coaches who simply want the best for their athletes and are willing to work with them through scheduling conflicts. The more significant conflict for an athlete, though, may be the loss of passion that playing multiple sports can lead to.

“I would say playing multiple sports does cause you to lose passion [moreso] than [interfere with your] performance,” said Ziebka. “As I tried to manage playing basketball and soccer, I would get exhausted having to manage school, both sports, friendships, and overall health. This made me start to blame most of my exhaustion…on basketball and I started to lose love for the sport.”

Despite this potential internal conflict, many student-athletes and coaches alike would agree that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to being a multi-sport athlete. Dance team Coach Maggie Wiener encourages high school students to become involved in multiple sports and reflects on the life lessons that come with this experience.

“Having potentially three different coaches being a three-season athlete can help with adapting to working under different styles of leadership once you are out in the workforce in any given career,” said Wiener.

Ultimately, involving oneself in multiple sports allows a person, especially a high schooler, to explore his or her passions while the options are available. Although conflicts can arise from being committed to multiple sports or seasons, “Triple Threat” athletes should embrace their talents and live out their athleticism to make for a fulfilling high school experience.

“Being a multi-sport high school student athlete positively reinforces the areas of practicing time management, self discipline, and gives individuals a chance to find those true passions at this level,” said Wiener, “in an environment where there is room to take chances and try new things in a safe space.”