What do these 18 former Plymouth athletes all have in common…..Steve Phillips (1971), Rick Williams (1971), Bob Albertson (1977), Pete Buchanan (1978), Scott Skiles (1982), Dave Hoover (1986), Dave Roahrig (1992), Jason Rudd (1992), Mike Kershner (1994), Nick Wise (1997), Ryan Colvin (1997), John Pettibone (2000), Morgan Uceny (2003), David Burroughs (2007), Randy Davis (2008), Mack Mercer (2014), Kaydon Fosler (2015, and Allie Wright (2015)?? All of them played or are playing a sport at a Division I school. And amazingly, 14 of the 18 athletes shown here played at least two sports throughout their high school career.
In this ever increasing need by high school athletes to “specialize” in one sport, experts are telling high school athletes to be a multi-sport athlete. Aaron Wright is the director of Ohio University’s Master’s Degree program in Athletic Administration. He has found that specializing in a sport is detrimental physically and psychologically. He says, “It can hamper development and lead to burnout and repetitive stress injuries.”
Giancarlo Stanton is the right fielder for the Miami Marlins. Early in his high school career at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, CA, he was deciding what sport (s) to play. He was very talented at football, basketball, and baseball. Stanton decided to drop basketball even though his favorite sport at the time was basketball according to his high school Baseball Coach Tom Dill.
During the summer, his three high school coaches for each sport who shared Stanton would get together and work out a schedule. According to Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Kevin Rooney, “There was no tension, no jealousy, and no fear of retribution from any of the coaches involved with Stanton.”
Stanton ended up playing all three sports throughout high school. During his senior year at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High School during the 2006-2007 season, he was All-Conference in football catching 11 touchdown passes. He was All-Conference in basketball averaging 20 PPG and 14 RPG. And he was All-Conference in baseball hitting .393 with 12 home runs. Two years ago he signed a 13 year contract with the Marlins for $325 million.
Urban Meyer, Head Football Coach at Ohio State University recruited a total of 47 different athletes for his Buckeye squad for the start of the 2016 season. Of those 47 high school athletes, 42 of them were multi-sport athletes while competing in high school.
One of Meyer’s first questions he asks an athlete when he starts recruiting him is, “What other sports do you play in high school?” Meyer likes to go see his recruited athletes play in another sport. He can often be seen attending a recruit’s basketball or baseball game.
This was true of Tim Tebow when Meyer was coaching at the University of Florida. Meyer went to watch Tebow play baseball in high school. Meyer said he had never seen a player impact a baseball game from right field, and it was because of Tebow’s leadership from out there.
Back in 2011 when PHS athlete Mack Mercer was being recruited by then Butler University Basketball Coach Brad Stevens to play basketball for the Bulldogs, Stevens came to watch Mack at football practice.
Obviously successful college coaches like Urban Meyer and Brad Stevens use the same formula when checking on their recruits. Stevens has since moved his talents to the Boston Celtics.
Tom Izzo is the current Head Basketball Coach at Michigan State University. He loves recruiting multiple sport athletes including his favorite player ever, Mateen Cleaves. Cleaves lead MSU to the 2000 National Championship. Cleaves was also an All-State Football QB for Flint (MI) Northern High School.
Jay Bilas, college basketball commentator on ESPN and former college basketball player at Duke, wrote a book entitled, “Toughness”. He called Cleaves the toughest college basketball player over the last 25 years. Bilas said his toughness came from having been a leader and key player in two sports while playing in high school.
Former LaPorte athlete and Indiana University All-American baseball player Dustin DeMuth lead the Big Ten in hitting his senior year in 2014. He was recruited to Indiana University by then Head Coach Tracy Smith who is now the Head Coach at Arizona State University. When he was at LaPorte High School he was voted All-Conference in football, basketball, and baseball in one of the toughest conferences in the state, the Duneland Conference.
Scott Upp was his baseball coach at LaPorte High school. Upp said, “If there are coaches out there telling kids to play one sport, I think they are crazy. A multi-sport kid is competing and trying to make plays like running from a 6-2, 280 lb lineman. In basketball with time winding down and he’s got the ball in his hands, he’s learning how to compete. All those things that happen in other sports just make him that much better in baseball.” DeMuth is now playing minor league baseball in the Milwaukee Brewers system.
On the medical side of playing and specializing in one sport, injuries often occur while overusing the same muscles all the time. Dr. Steve Yemm is a sports medicine specialist. He works with the Colorado Rockies through the Orthopaedic Center in Denver, CO.
“There are several things that are negative medically in sports specialization,” Dr. Yemm said. “We do see lots of overuse injuries from young people playing the same sport year round. They use the same muscle groups over and over again. You continually expose them to the same physical stresses. Over time, the incidence of injury is much higher than if you mix it up.”
“The other negative that I see a lot of is there’s a huge incidence of just psychological burnout in kids,” Dr Yemm said. “They just get sick of it after a while. Many times if they’ve done it all the way through grade school and middle school years, by the time they get to high school, lots of them, even if they don’t get hurt, get sick of it and quit.”
At Plymouth High School, our enrollment is just over 1100 students. We would be considered a small school when competing against schools in our Nothern Lakes Conference. Five of the seven schools in the NLC are bigger than Plymouth High School.
In looking at the major team sports of football, volleyball, boy’s basketball, girl’s basketball, baseball, and softball, more than half of the schedule of each team is played against larger schools.
What this translates into is we at Plymouth High School cannot afford to have athletes specialize in one sport. Our best athletes need to compete in two and three sports for us to have success.
A recent study conducted by our school corporation predicts enrollment in Plymouth Schools to decrease over the next 10 years. That makes it even more important for our student-athletes to be multi-sport athletes.
We in the Plymouth High School Athletic Department appreciate very much our multi-sport athletes. A person only gets to compete athletically for a short time. We urge you to make the most of that short time by participating in as many seasons of sports as possible.