This week I met with the varsity coaches at Zeeland West and discussed a topic that all athletic departments are challenged with, how and (maybe more importantly – why) we should encourage athletes to play more than just one sport. We had a great dialogue and I would like to share with you some of our thoughts…
The kids at West have so much to gain through multi-sport
participation, including the chance to play at the highest level. You
need to look no further than the 2015 Zeeland West football team which
had 5 all state players amongst whom 4 were 3 sport athletes and the
other one was a three sporter in his first two years. I believe that
their multi-sport participation was one of the reasons they excelled
in football and believe that this is true for many of our athletes.
Coach John Shillito (Head Football & Asst Track & Field)
I am going to tell you how I feel about multisport athletes from what we have experienced from Haley’s experiences. Haley has made many friendships that would never have been realized had she only played one sport, including teammates and coaches. She also got to experience different team atmospheres and different levels of team successes, which helps her mature not only as an athlete but more importantly as a person. Her future coaches at Michigan have repeatedly told her how much they love multisport athletes for a few reasons: 1) they haven’t reached their ceiling yet in any one sport, 2) they are less likely to suffer overuse injuries, and 3) they are less likely to experience burnout. If you talk to Haley I know that she is so thankful for every high school team she has been on, and for very different reasons. I know if she had it to do over, she probably would try to do more, not less.
Coach Rhonda Hoogenraad (Head Softball & Asst Girls Basketball)
Our student athletes have a wonderful opportunity to compete in multiple sports. We are quite fortunate to provide such a diverse number of experiences headed by coaches that not only know their craft but also attempt to do it in the right way. We need to continue to share the positive experiences of past athletes competing in multiple sports and the advantages that are earned from doing so in high school and beyond.
Coach Tim Minnear (Head Boys/Girls Golf)
Multi-sport participation fosters the development of the whole student-athlete. Being a member of various sports teams provides for a variety of positive learning experiences for our students. Multi-sport athletes get the opportunity to build relationships with different groups of people from each team that they participate. Playing various sports that require different skill sets contribute to developing the whole athlete. Improving skills in one sport can also assist in the progression of a player in their other sports.
Coach Amy Edwards (Head Girls Basketball)
Championships are gained through collective mindsights, not by collective actions on the field, track, court, or pool. That mindset is what makes Zeeland West elite, which is proven year after year at the MHSAA level. We need this mindset to spread to every level of every sport. By partaking in multiple sports, we all benefit by combining the champion attitudes from all areas of athletics, and moving forward as one Dux team.
Coach Matt Ray (Head Boys/Girls Swim & Dive)
As coaches, our mission is to provide positive experiences for our athletes. Promoting multi-sport participation is a way of offering more of these positive experiences for our athletes. As a former 3-sport athlete with marginal athletic ability, I am convinced that participating in multiple sports provided me with great experiences where I learned a lot about myself – physicallly, mentally, emotionally, and socially – things I couldn’t have learned or experienced in a classroom, or working a part time job. I firmly believe that playing for different coaches, with a variety of teammates in different sports had a huge impact on who I became as an adult. I don’t regret my decision as a former athlete, and would encourage all of our athletes to push themselves to try different things or excel in different areas, and become more well-rounded as an individual. Interscholastic athletics provides for learning and developmental opportunities that cannot be replicated in the classroom. I believe that the more opportunities an athlete takes advantage of during high school, the more well-rounded and better prepared they will be in becoming a positive and productive member of society.
Coach Ben Hondorp (Head Boys Soccer Coach)
At Zeeland West – we have an outstanding group of coaches! Having said that, I want it to be known that they are not alike. They have different coaching styles, different personalities and different techniques that they use to deliver their coaching message.
The common bond that they all share is their genuine care & concern for our student athletes…By participating in multiple sports, Zeeland West student athletes are able to experience the skills, abilities & personalities of this fantastic caring group!
AD Werley (Former Basketball, Football, Volleyball, Softball & Track & Field Coach)
Parents – Encourage your kids to take advantage of the opportunity for multiple “school sports”. Studies have shown that participation helps student athletes in the following ways:
improves fitness levels,
improves time management skills,
helps establish & reinforce the 3 p’s (persistence, patience & practice) that are invaluable in helping them to achieve goals in high school and beyond,
teaches leadership skills,
& it helps forge positive, healthy relationships between teammates that often last long after high school.
Public School Review
Yours in sport,