The Grizzly Growl

Twice the Guts, Twice the Glory

Life as a Multi-Sport Athlete

Autumn Lucas, Staff Writer

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It can be difficult for any athlete to prepare for the season, but that becomes even more troubling when they move from one sport right into the season for another. Many athletes participate in multiple sports and that can be straining mentally and physically. All student athletes are faced with the difficulty of managing their time, but it is two-fold for athletes who play more than one sport. Taela Laufiso, a member of both the volleyball and basketball teams at Copper Hills, told The Growl, “The hardest thing for me when it comes to playing multiple sports is managing time for everything else to get done as well as maintains responsibilities that come with playing those sports.”

The hardest part about playing highly competitive sports is that you hardly have any time off, so it can be hard to imagine playing multiple sports at that level. Laufiso has a lot of experience in this, saying, “Since I was a freshman I have played high school basketball and volleyball. And during basketball season, which starts in November, I would also start club volleyball that goes from November until May. And then I’d train for both sports during the summer, mainly volleyball since it starts in the fall… I don’t have an off-season!” Her case is especially difficult when transitioning between high school volleyball to high school basketball, because the volleyball state playoffs are just days before basketball tryouts. “I don’t have time between basketball and volleyball season… Luckily, my basketball coaches give me a couple days off to rest before starting again,” Teala said.

One of the biggest issues that athletes run into is burnout, which is a response to the stresses and toll that come with playing competitive sports. Timothy Neal, the Clinical Education Coordinator at Concordia University-Ann Arbor, said, “The attitude of ‘more is better’ in terms of constant activity in a quest for individual or team success is prevalent in today’s sports world, starting at the youth level and continuing through the secondary school and collegiate levels. Interestingly, professional sports have in place, through their collective bargaining agreements, mandated time off for the athletes to recover from the rigors of their season.” This points out that many young athletes have less time off than professional athletes, which isn’t what you think would be the case. Taela said that this hasn’t really been a problem for her, telling The Growl, “I think playing both sports has helped prevent me from being burnt out.  Because I don’t get sick of basketball because volleyball gives me a break from it. Or vice versa… I don’t feel burnt out as much as many would probably assume.”

While it takes a tremendous strain on an athlete both mentally and physically to play multiple sports, there’s a reason they do it. When athletes who work as hard as Taela does, it’s because they genuinely love their sport, or sports, in her case. “As hard as it may be on me mentally and physically, it’s always been worth it. I’ve loved both sports and a lot of coaches have told me since I was 14, when I started to play both, that I would need to choose one if I wanted to play in college, or just be good at the sport in general, but I couldn’t give one up,” Laufiso told The Growl, adding, “Playing both has improved my mental toughness and my endurance. It has helped form my work ethic and leadership skills… It’s been super hard, but I love it. It has always been worth it!”

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Twice the Guts, Twice the Glory