Three-sport athletes at Tonganoxie stay busy all year round
There was a point in time when summers meant some time off for high school athletes in Kansas.
Of course, for top athletes, the break between school years also was used to train, stay in shape, get stronger, maybe play for a traveling club team.
Now, however, summer schedules for prep athletes are more hectic than ever. Last fall, the Kansas State High School Activities Association approved increased summer contact for basketball and football coaches.
That translated to a crowded calendar that lasts almost year-round for Tonganoxie High athletes who compete in three sports, including football and basketball.
After the school year — complete with fall, winter and spring sports seasons — ended, the new summer schedule began. For three-sport athletes especially, there is no longer an off-season. There’s just a break from school responsibilities in the new on-season that is June and July.
There are positive aspects of participating in three sports and then diving right back into things in June with multiple workouts and camps, Tonganoxie junior Dylan Scates said. For one, it’s pretty difficult to get out of shape. But Scates, who was a part of the Chieftains’ football, basketball and track teams as a sophomore, said there are some drawbacks.
“You don’t have that much free time,” he said.
Sports never stop
After going to state in the triple jump the last weekend of May, Scates was right back at THS the following week for football camp. The next week featured basketball camp. And throughout the summer there are workouts for both sports, not to mention early-morning strength training.
“It’s pretty much a job,” Scates said. “In the summertime when you’ve got so much going on with sports, you don’t have much time but I love it. It’s what I do.”
THS junior Jeremy Carlisle, who helped THS win a boys 4x400 relay state championship after starring for the Chieftains’ football and basketball squads in ’08-’09, said the lengthy sports schedule was a little rough but the athletes who invest the time and sweat in the summer know it’s worth it. Not only do they better themselves, they also earn their coaches’ trust.
“We get better,” Carlisle said, “and it shows when we get to the actual season.”
One of the major challenges of being involved with so many sports, senior Justin Jacobs pointed out, is the different combinations of muscle groups an athlete utilizes.
“The start of each sport is hard because every sport you do is like a different kind of shape,” Jacobs said. “Switching sports is the hardest part — just getting over the soreness after the first couple days.”
Lucky for Jacobs, a receiver and post player, his spring sport of choice is as low contact as it gets.
“I realize that golf doesn’t keep me in shape,” he said with a grin.
But it does provide the Chieftain golfer with some active down time while keeping him relatively fresh.
“Golf is just a time to rest, physically,” Jacobs said, “because you’re not running or getting beat up the whole time.”
Hitting a wall
That’s not a luxury afforded to an athlete such as Carlisle. Although he hasn’t yet felt ill effects due to his athletics regime, he isn’t ruling it out.
“Everybody hits a wall in some aspect of their life,” Carlisle said, “and with me being so involved in athletics, I’m pretty sure I’m going to hit one in athletics at some time.”
Still, the dedication and habits he has developed while competing at a high level in multiple sports, Carlisle said, should help him climb over or plow through a wall if he hits one.
Likewise, Scates thought his faithfulness to sports has kept him injury-free.
“If you take a break from a sport, your body gets away from working out everyday and more injuries will happen,” Scates said.
Jacobs hasn’t been so lucky. At the beginning of summer workouts, he hurt his right knee and has been wearing a large brace on it since.
Carlisle, too, has had his share of dings. But he has no regrets.
“It makes my life a lot more fun, just being involved,” Carlisle said of his varsity career at Tonganoxie.
That doesn’t mean the three-sport athletes didn’t enjoy a break from the end of summer workouts to the first day of fall practice on Monday.
“We just want that rest time besides weekends,” Carlisle said.
Following a few weeks off this month, the three-sport athletes reported back for another year of work in football, basketball and more.
“A break would be nice,” Scates said, “but I like getting better.”