Sport Specialization

Playing only one sport might not give you the athletic performance you are hoping to have

By Alex Strang

Many athletes only play one sport in their later years of high school, but if they want to take their athletics to the next level, that might not be the best option. It also causes overuse injuries because your body is not supposed to do the same movements all year long.

There are many reasons athletes choose to specialize. Some athletes feel pressured to excel at one sport and to put all of their effort into it. Others think that if they practice one sport all year they will have an edge over somebody who plays two or three sports and does not focus on only that sport. Athletes who have aspirations of playing at the next level might think that college coaches want them to play that sport as much as they can, leading them to specialize.

Dexter Athletic Director and Varsity Women’s Basketball Coach Mike Bavineau says that he has seen an increase in specialization. The decrease in two sport athletes has not been too dramatic, but there is a large drop off in three sport athletes: he said only three kids in the entire class of 2016 played three sports.

“You want kids to be in as many pressure situations as possible,” Bavineau said.

When winter rolls around, he wants his players to be used to that pressure of the game being on the line. He says there are many benefits to playing another sport: leadership skills, making them a better teammate, giving the body a rest from one sport, exposing the athlete to competition with different people.

Dexter Athletic Trainer Trevor O’Brien believes that the body needs a break and athletes should not play one sport year round.

“Statistics show that if you play more than one sport you’re less likely to get injured,” O’Brien said. “This is because overuse injuries are more common in one sport athletes. “Your body will adapt to multidirectional movement if you play multiple sports instead of just one movement year round like throwing a baseball.”

All you have to do to give your body a break from the same repetitive movements is to play another sport. Many sports complement each other and improve skills in the other sport. For example, cross country and soccer both have a focus on cardiovascular endurance. Since women’s soccer is in the spring and cross country is in the fall, these sports go hand in hand. Field hockey and ice hockey work similar skills as in lacrosse.

Many female athletes at DHS play field hockey and lacrosse while many male athletes on the ice hockey team also play lacrosse. Lacrosse and hockey are similar sports, but at the same time different enough where they work different movement patterns and planes that will prevent overuse injuries.

Junior Daniel Higgins believes it is a good idea to play two sports that compliment each other and he proves it works. In the fall, Higgins is a starter on the varsity soccer team. In the spring he runs varsity track. He is one of the fastest athletes on both teams.

Last spring he went to states and nationals as a member of the 4×800 meter relay team.

“Both sports improve my cardiovascular endurance and speed, so the two complement each other well,” he said. Soccer helps me with track and the track workouts help me for soccer.”

Most pro athletes played at least two sports in high school, and some even in college. Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, Robert Griffin III, Jabrill Peppers, and Bo Jackson are all common names in football, but they all have something else in common, too. They all ran track. They are some of the fastest players in the game. If you could pick one athletic trait that separates Division I bound athletes from the average high school athlete, it is unquestionably speed. Speed is one of the most important skills for so many sports other than football, including soccer, field hockey, basketball, and hockey.

It’s no secret that the football program at Dexter has struggled in past years. Reasons for the lack of success are widely debated. But no matter what you think the program needs for success, one major skill that would help is speed. It puts the team at a disadvantage when they compete against teams like Chelsea, Saline, and Ypsilanti that have many of their skill players running track in the spring. The Dexter track team has lacked football players in recent years.

Former Dexter football defensive coordinator George Michos said if there is a good track coach, he would definitely want his skill players to run track.

“It teaches you the proper way to run and gets you fast. You can either pay somebody to coach you the proper way to run or you can just run track,” Michos said.

He believes the program will be more successful if more players run track because it will make the team faster overall.

There are always college recruiters at track and field invitational meets, but they are not only track recruiters. There are often college football recruiters and coaches talking to kids at meets in the spring. There are recruiters from a variety of sports watching kids that compete in track and field as a second sport.

If you only play one sport but want to be the best athlete you can be or have aspirations to continue a sport in college, the evidence suggests playing another sport too. If you can find a sport that complements one that you already play, your athletic performance can improve, and your risk of injury should decrease.

Fall Sports Update

A quick overview of some of Dexter’s primary fall sports as the season winds down

By Nick LeBlanc and Alex Strang

Football

This season, the Dreads have shown improvement through six games.  What has been the constant downfall of the team is the lack of personnel, which has caused players to get tired as the games have progressed.  The Dreads still have a positive outlook despite the 0-6 record: “Every week before a game we try and put together quality practices,” senior Seamus McCurren said. “We had a good week of practice before Tecumseh and managed to get into the redzone four times in the first half.”

Soccer

The Boys Soccer team is a main contender for the SEC White division this year.  With a record of 14-4-1 (7-2 in conference play), the Dreads like their odds to compete in districts and beyond.  After defeating Chelsea 2-1, senior Austin Graham said, “I have confidence in my team this year. I think we can win states.”

Cross Country

The cross country team took 3rd in the most recent divisional meet and is looking to improve and win the the next one. “We are a very young team with a strong brotherhood,” senior Tyrus Wood said. “We are looking to bring home a big victory at the end of the season and do better than we did last year at the state meet in November.”

Volleyball

With only four seniors, the volleyball team is finding success with underclassmen stepping up to play big roles on the court. The Dreads (21-14) hope to end their season on a high note. “Our season is going a lot better than expected and I am excited to see how we do in districts later this season,” senior Captain Mary Gallagher said.

Field Hockey

The field hockey team is once again a state championship caliber team, with an undefeated 10-0-2 record. “Right now, we are tied for first in the division,” junior Marin Waddington said. “We hope to win the state championship.”

Tennis

So far this year, the Tennis team has been suffering from a lack of participants. Students who had never played competitive tennis were joining the team midseason.  Despite this, the team is still winning. “We placed second in the SEC’s and managed to overcome some challenges we faced during the season,” senior Brandon Wiegers said.

Mens soccer hopes to return to states

The mens soccer team is coming off a season in which they went to states and finished in the final four. Currently ranked sixth in the state with an 8-3-1 record, the possibility of returning to states isn’t out of the question according to Coach Scott Forester who thinks it’s hard to consider the postseason yet.

Forester said, “With three weeks left in the regular season, it’s hard to think that far ahead.”

Senior Owen Brooks agrees.

“It’s hard not to look ahead, but that’s definitely a mindset we have to have.We still have a lot of games left before the playoffs and those are what we need to focus on right now.”
Even though districts are a distance away, Forester thinks there will be strong teams that can compete well with Dexter.

Forester said, “Our district draw hasn’t occurred yet however, strong teams like Mason and Chelsea are in there, which will it make it difficult to win at that level of the tournament.”

The tough challenges moving forward may prove a test for Dexter, but they’ve beaten tough teams before and know how to play against tough opponents. This gives them an advantage over other teams because of that experience that is valuable to the teams success according to Forester.

Forester said, “The team has shown an ability to take on the best and compete well with them.”
The team is experienced too as eight out of the 11 starters from last year return the two captains, seniors Levi Kipke and Tony Pisto. Forester said they bring leadership and an understanding on how to return to states and what it takes to get back.

Forester said, “Having them for another year, knowing what it takes to compete at the highest level, they are able to share that with their teammates.”
With the leadership of their captains, Brooks said the team knows how to return to states and know that they can.

He said, “Having been to to states once was an awesome experience, but it makes us want to work even harder this year to go all the way.”
Being to states before, the dreadnaughts know what to expect from the other teams that made it that far and how to prepare for them.

Brooks said, “We know what to expect and the types of teams we will be up against.”

The experience of Kipke and Pisto, trickle down to the new players too including junior Jake Rayer.

“Their experience really helps us out and helps us to achieve our goal,” Rayer said. They give constructive criticism and when we’re struggling, they help us get over our struggles and get better. This helps us get ready for the postseason and help us go to return to states.”