In an age of specialization, many athletes face a difficult decision in their high school sports career, they must make a decision to specialize or diversify
Matthew Smith | Staff Writer
Mason athletes are split over the idea that less is more.
Some have decided that playing multiple sports is what they want to do as an athlete, even if their future and potential college career rests in the hands of one certain sport. Others have decided that they need to put all their attention into one sport, the one they know will carry them to a scholarship or more playing time.
Either route can have heavy impacts. Greater Miami Conference Girls Basketball Player of the Year Sammie Puisis said she needs all the time she can get in order to train for the collegiate basketball level. Thus, she decided to give up volleball this year.
“Once I committed to Florida State, I thought it would be better for me to focus on basketball, since I have only one more year to prepare for the collegiate level,” Puisis said. “Practicing volleyball everyday after school and having games on the weekends, I was never able to get up shots at the gym.”
After playing volleyball for three years, Florida State basketball commit Sammie Puisis decided to focus on basketball during her senior year.
Less time being put into a sport can hinder the development of the athlete’s skill. Collin Brown, Mason’s starting quarterback, said he is not worried about losing time he could dedicate to football, as he plays basketball and baseball as well.
“I don’t worry about not having enough time for football,” Brown said. “I enjoy other sports, and I would like to play all three throughout high school.”
Multi-sport athletes may also have a greater risk of potential injuries. Brown, however, said he has no fear of injury, as he understands the risks that are involved.
“I don’t worry about injuries; baseball isn’t too violent,” Brown said. “Basketball you could do something to your legs, but that’s sports. I don’t worry about that.”
Brown said he prefers playing multiple sports because he needs a break from football. Often, his motivation to play basketball is generated as an escape from football and baseball, and then he finds himself enjoying the season.
“Playing one sport, you can get burned out after a certain amount of time,” Brown said. “Playing the same sport year-round, I don’t know how you can do that, I would need a break. That’s a big reason why I don’t only play football. With basketball, I usually want a break between baseball and football, but once the season gets going, my love for the season grows as well.”
Quarterback Collin Brown is a three sport athlete. He plays football, basketball, and baseball.
While multi-sport athletes are always changing their game, athletes who only play one could get bored, or overworked in their constant routine. Puisis said she has been sure to move slow in her transition to focus solely on basketball to dodge this potential feeling.
“When I played volleyball, it was good that I had a break from basketball so I don’t play year-round,” Puisis said. “This is the first time I’m not playing volleyball, so I’m hoping I don’t get burnt out. I have already taken a little bit of a break from basketball to avoid from that happening.”
Many high school athletes feel colleges will prefer that their players came from multi-sport backgrounds. Brown said playing more than one sport separates himself from another recruit.
Playing more than one can help you get recruited,” Brown said. “Different sports bring out a different ability, especially basketball, where it really helps with your agility and quickness. Recruiters will look for multi-sport athletes because of that.”
High school coaches have also picked up on this trend. Head football coach Brian Castner said that in his experience with the recruiting process, athletes who have played more than one sport get the most attention, which is why he advises his players to do so.
“You can find many coaches that are at the collegiate level that will say they want multiple sport athletes; it’s a fact,” Castner said. “Whether it’s a basketball, baseball, or football coach, it doesn’t matter. I think it’s a great a thing, the more multiple sport players you have on your team, the better off you will be. Not just initially, but also in the long run. You’re going to see a lot of growth because those players have been in multiple pressure situations.”
Photos by Tanner Pearson.