By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Staff
Several weeks ago, I took photos of Jonathan Frady competing at a track and field meet at Cherokee High School (CHS). Then, less than an hour after it ended, I took photos of him pitching six innings in a baseball game on campus.
Over the last few decades that I’ve covered sports at CHS, it has been the norm rather than the exception for student-athletes to compete in more than one sport – some within the same season. This academic year alone, I’ve covered Frady, a recent CHS honors graduate, in multiple sports including football, basketball, track and field, and baseball.
It is the same for boys and girls. Jaylynne Esquivel, one of the region’s top distance runners in both track and field and cross country, is also a wrestler on the school’s varsity team.
Many of the athletes at CHS participate in numerous sports for several reasons. First and foremost, it is a very small school and there’s a finite number of athletes. Secondly, many do it as a way to keep in shape as well as keep their competitive edge up.
Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once said, “I played everything. I played lacrosse, baseball, hockey, soccer, track and field. I was a big believer that you played hockey in the winter and when the season was over you hung up your skates and you played something else.”
The Michigan High School Athletic Association released survey results several years ago that found 43 percent of the student-athletes in the state participated in more than one sport. And those rates increased as the school size got smaller with Class D schools (equivalent to 1A schools in North Carolina) reported the highest at 61.8 percent.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) actually encourages multi-sport participation and discourages specializing in just one sport. Information from the organization states, “A study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, which included more than 1,500 high school athletes, found that athletes who specialized in one sport were twice as likely to report a lower extremity injury as compared to those who played multiple sports.”
It continued, “Another recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine has those numbers even higher, claiming that spending more than eight months annually in one sport leaves young athletes nearly three times more likely to experience an overuse injury in their hip or knee.”
The NFHS also states that participation in multiple sports can have lasting positive affects beyond high school. “In a study of more than 14,000 12th graders, it was found that youth athletes who participated in multiple sports as kids were more likely to have healthier behaviors later in life such as exercising vigorously each day, getting at least seven hours of sleep regularly, being less likely to smoke and being more likely to eat green vegetables. They also seem to have higher levels of self-esteem and social support, and lower levels of loneliness and self-derogation.”
While all of those are excellent reasons to participate in multiple sports, one big aspect that cannot be overlooked is the student-athlete’s pure desire to stay busy and competitive in a variety of settings.
Whatever the reason, it is great seeing young Cherokee athletes out competing, having fun, and being healthy.