After Further Review: Cole Young 3/8

Cole Young

By Cole Young PrepsKC Columnist
Posted: March 8, 2014 - 3:56 PM

A few days ago I heard a story on the radio about Nick Bollettieri and how he helped grow a world of sports where athletes specialize in just one sport.
Bollettieri began with a tennis academy, which was eventually bought and turned into the IMG Sports Academy in Florida, perhaps the top academy in the world for specialization in sports.
That led me to thinking about walking through an area high school a few weeks ago where I saw a sign about spring sports starting with a note from the football coach attached.
I’m paraphrasing, but essentially note said “Football players, if you aren’t playing another spring sport, you are expected to run track.”
It was a welcome sign to see in my opinion. Too often as more and more athletes turn toward specializing, it’s good to see the top athletes in a school compete for the school and not a club team during the school year. The coach’s plan wasn’t necessarily to drive kids away from specializing but rather to make sure they stayed in a well-regulated conditioning program for a few more months.
When it has come to football players playing multiple sports, Kansas City area has been lucky in that regard.
Over the past six or seven years some of the top talents have not just played one sport, but branched into others as well.
Conner Teahan and Nathan Scheelhaase both played multiple sports at Rockhurst. Willie Cauley-Stein played wide receiver as well as basketball. Others like Trent Hosick and Evan Boehm were football and wrestling stars.
Perhaps the best example this year of athletes refusing to specialize is the Lee’s Summit West basketball team.
Led by Monte Harrison, who could have a Division I scholarship in football, basketball or baseball, the team is highlighted by names typically announced on Friday nights in the fall.
Seeing what Harrison has done is reminiscent of Bubba Starling who had many of the same opportunities.
There are the detractors to the idea of playing all the different sports.
The biggest case they make is injuries, which is a legitimate concern.
During a recent basketball game I attended, a junior who has Division I football offers went to the floor holding his knee and immediately went to the locker room.
It’s situations like these that make many Division I football and basketball players re-evaluate and sometimes stop playing second and third sports as they near the end of high school.
That’s something I can definitely understand, especially with thousands of dollars of potential scholarship money on the table if the athlete hasn’t already signed.
That doesn’t mean as fans we have to like it though.
As we see this trend continue to increase and the number of multi-sport athletes decrease, be sure to appreciate when you see a top-level talent putting it all on the line in a second or even third sport.