Athletes deal with overlapping seasons

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Athletes deal with overlapping seasons

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As winter sports are beginning, fall sports are heading into the playoffs. Student athletes are having to juggle between two sports seasons and are attempting to split their time evenly between the two. The transition may cause some students trouble, especially since both sports seasons overlap. The only sport at LB that is in the playoffs at the moment is football, and some football players also do basketball, wrestling or indoor track in the winter time. This can be challenging to transition from football practice and either tryouts or practice for another sport.

“I stay with football [practice] all the way until it’s over,” senior Trey Stephens said, who is the wide receiver on the varsity football team and a guard on the varsity basketball team. “So each year, my tryouts are after football season.”

Football players who play other sports may not have exercised the muscles that are needed going into basketball, track or wrestling. Also, when football ends the players do get a couple of days off before they are required to return to practice. Some athletes may take it, but if they continue to take breaks then they may not return with their best athleticism.

“It’s hard because you work different muscles,” Stephen said. “Coming back from football, it puts me behind the basketball players learning the offense, so it takes me several weeks to get caught up.”

It does take a lot to manage, but players can if they split their time evenly and consult with the coaches. Although, it is a lot of time management to find time to do homework, too.

“Normally, I have about three to four hours after football to do my homework,” Stephens said. “And basketball practices aren’t as long, so I have [more] time to do work.”

Even though players are committed to more than one sport, they have to stay true to their commitment. If they started the football season they must finish it with the team, regardless of what they are going to miss from their other sport commitment.

“When it is football season, it is football season. When it is basketball season, it is basketball season. There is no conflict,” said Jim Poythress, head coach of the Lake Braddock varsity football team. “Kids who play football should honor their commitment to the team. I tell my guys that if they want to leave to play hoops or to wrestle then go. I only want to go to battle with soldier’s focused on the task at hand.”

The fact that football overlaps winter sports may not affect the football team very much as a whole, but it does have an effect on the winter teams. The players will miss about two to four weeks of practice and games minimum when the football team enters the playoffs, and when they return the players have to start from the beginning since they may not necessarily be prepared.

“I think that winter sports are affected by the long run of the fall sports, and it’s unfortunate, since they lose a lot of playing time,” said Brian Metress, head coach of the varsity boy’s basketball team. “It doesn’t really [go the same way] with winter sports because they don’t affect spring sports. We went to the state semifinals two years ago, and no one missed baseball practice. These guys will miss 20 to 30 practices and four to five games, which is 20 percent of the season.”

Players aren’t entirely prepared for the winter sports season, Metress said.They are in a bind because they are unprepared compared to other players who have been practicing since tryouts. It’s like putting a guy in the first Friday football game who hasn’t practiced all summer. The whole team is sympathetic for the players, but they still have to practice and play games, Metress said.

Having to split their time between two sports affects everyone around them. Their teammates and coaches have to get used to practicing around those players, which can be challenging but also positive at the same time.

“It’s not bad for us,” Metress said. “We don’t look at it in a negative way. We look at it in a positive way. We look forward to having a couple of players from football, like in pro-sports trading deadline. We get new people to help run and press. It’s a way to do both. It’s a situation that occurs every year because so many football teams go to the playoffs, so we’ve got to get used to coaching around it.”

This is a big stressor for players because they are dedicated to more than one sport, and they want to please their teammates, coaches and family members.

“I believe that all kids should finish what they started. Usually the most stressed guys are either underclassmen or those worried about playing time,” Poythress said. “Coaches worry because they think they are losing valuable teaching time and falling behind. It is just the way it is.”

It is challenging to juggle both sports, but players do have the support of their teammates and coaches. It’s how they choose to handle the stress that affects them.

“If you play football and wrestle, then you might not be in wrestling shape after the playoffs. However, you have plenty of time in the long winter season to catch up,” Poythress said. “I tell my team that if you are a beast on the wrestling mat, then a couple of weeks still playing football won’t hurt you. It is the same with basketball. Either you can hoop or you probably aren’t that good. Many basketball greats also played football deep into the playoffs. Allen Iverson, Percy Harvin, Ronald Curry, Clint Sintim, are names of guys who made the playoffs and still held it down in basketball. Further, every school is in the same position. The best basketball player at Westfield is their quarterback.”

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