That isn’t the case at Fellowship Christian this fall, where four girls are not only playing two different sports in a year, but two in the same athletic season.
“It’s a growing trend around the world to have kids specialize in one sport, and while there may be benefits for some, our research doesn’t show a whole lot of proof that it will guarantee future success,” said FCS Athletic Director Hunter Chadwick, who also pulls double-duty as the Paladin football coach.
“So we created a system where they pick primary and secondary sports, then the coaches sit down and work out practice and game schedules so the teams and kids can be as successful at possible.”
Caroline Long, Leila Darnell, Katie Jacobs and Crimson Rooney are splitting their fall seasons on the volleyball court and softball diamond. Jacobs, a softball standout, has joined the volleyball team as a reserve with the other three (primary volleyball players) adding depth to a softball program that had just nine players otherwise.
“It’s an idea that came up over the summer because we had some really good athletes that could help us have a competitive softball program,” said softball coach Bryan Lindner. “Coach Chadwick took it from there.”
Chadwick said there were no GHSA rules about playing two sports at once and that it has long been a regular task with sports like track and field — where an athlete can practice with one team all week then show up for a meet to run a race for the other.
Volleyball and softball scheduling woes were a little more confusing, but a system was put into place where a girl could miss a practice for the primary sport to play in a secondary game.
“The biggest argument is that age old question of ‘if you miss a practice one day, should you be allowed to start over another player and in a sport you didn’t practice for in the next game?’” said Chadwick.
“It’s a fair argument, but our stance is that we won’t penalize a girl for doing what she can to do more for her school, instead we reward that act.”
First-year coach Leah Smith, who has led her Lady Paladins to an 8-6 record so far this season, has seen pros and cons, but as a whole sees the practice as a positive.
“It can be difficult at times to have key players miss practice the night before a game, [but] it’s a great way to build a program [and] the girls have responded well.”