Some high school athletes take on two sports in same season
Monday, September 30, 2019 | 4:06 PM
In recent years, high school athletes have started to specialize in one sport in hopes of improving their chances at playing in college.
While some athletes have chosen to play one sport all year long, others have gone the opposite direction and have chosen to play multiple sports in the same season.
Deer Lakes midfielder AJ Dorman is one of those athletes. For the past five years, Dorman has been playing soccer for the Lancers. Last year, he led the team in goals with 24. This year, he decided to kick and punt for the football team, too.
But that’s not all he does. When the football team goes into the locker room at halftime, Dorman stays on the field and performs with the marching band, adding even more chaos to his already crazy senior schedule.
“It can be pretty stressful,” Dorman said.
Playing two sports and an instrument creates a pretty hectic life for Dorman. He’ll practice with the band and his soccer team on Mondays and Wednesdays. He’ll play in soccer games on Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays. On Fridays, he’ll punt and kick for the football team and play in the halftime show in his football pads.
“It’s a lot of late nights. I usually get to bed around 11 after getting home and doing homework,” Dorman said. “It’s long days with little sleep. But it’s fun. You really start to realize how short a week is when you are counting the minutes of how much you can sleep.”
Somehow, on top of four AP classes, Dorman manages a schedule that often has him spending more time at school than at home. But he loves it and said he’s looking to just take advantage of the opportunities he has.
“Everyone always asks me, ‘How do you balance all of that?’” Dorman said. “I guess I’ve just been doing it for so long it’s second nature to me. But I enjoy it all. There’s a lot of hours put in at the school, but I love it. I like to have a lot of school pride. I love doing it. I love Deer Lakes. I wouldn’t change anything.”
Dorman isn’t the only high school athlete who fills up his fall schedule with multiple sports. Apollo-Ridge freshman Jacob Mull is another who pulls double duty throughout the week, but his situation is unique. Because of a soccer co-op with Leechburg, Mull gets to don two different jerseys.
On Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays, Mull pulls on his Leechburg jersey and tries to kick a soccer ball into the back of the net. Then, on Friday nights, Mull will throw on his pads and Apollo-Ridge jersey and try to kick footballs through the uprights. Sometimes he has a little trouble differentiating between the two.
“Sometimes it’s a little hard, because with football, I’m going over the goal,” Mull said. “Then, in soccer games, I end up kicking the ball over the goal, so I have to really concentrate when I kick the ball. I have to lean down a lot.”
So far through his freshman year, he’s been pretty successful at both. In the inaugural year of the Leechburg soccer program, Mull has five goals and three assists. On the football field, he’s 15 for 16 on extra points.
Playing soccer and football in the same season isn’t as difficult as it might seem, as the schedules work well together. Dorman and Mull can practice once or twice a week for the football team and play their soccer games three times a week, while still being able to suit up on Friday nights.
But football isn’t the route all soccer players take when they decide to play two sports in the same season. Highlands’ senior Shane Stefanik has been able to play both soccer and golf for the Golden Rams for the past four years.
After playing soccer from a young age and then picking up golf from playing with his dad, Stefanik wanted to find a way where he wouldn’t have to give up playing one of the two.
“When I found out the high school had a golf team, I knew I wanted to join,” Stefanik said. “So I just tried to talk to both of the coaches to figure out if I could manage playing both.”
It took a meeting between his coaches and Shane’s mom, but he was able to figure it out and has had the opportunity to compete in both sports that he loves.
Oftentimes for these athletes, it comes down to school spirit, wanting to help the team or not wanting to give up one sport for the other. In a time where high school athletes are choosing to stick to one sport, many are finding a way to do as much as they can, while they can, for several schools around the WPIAL.
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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