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No easy answers for aspiring three-sport athletes

Posted: Wednesday, Aug 7th, 2013

Last week I brought up the topic of whether Cottage Grove High School athletes are expected/and or pressured to participate in too many sports. Although I did not receive any communication from the athletes, I was able to garner some opinions by two of the more high profile coaches: Lions’ head football coach Gary Roberts and Donn Pollard, the boys’ head basketball coach and a parent.

Both coaches agreed that the opportunities for athletes to be involved in sports have increased over the past decade, especially when it comes to club and AAU sports.

Pollard was not timid in his opinion about AAU basketball and one current OSAA policy.

“The OSAA has the rule of two (a high school basketball coach can only meet with two players at a time in the offseason). If I have three kids in the spring who want to work on their jump shot, I can’t take them into the gym and coach them, but they can go spend $1500 to some guy who may or may not know anything but has an AAU team, and they can play on that. That makes no sense at all.

I think it is ridiculous if I have kids who are not out for a spring sport, and they want to work on their game, and their coach can’t coach them.”

In answer to my question of whether too much is now expected of basketball players, Pollard, who has coached for over 30 years, said he doesn’t think so.

“We basically do pretty much the same thing we’ve always done: play in late May to the end of June, and we might go to a team camp (the Lions often go to Gonzaga for a basketball camp in the summer).

There’s a lot more opportunities now with AAU stuff and club stuff. I think that is in some ways out of control. There didn’t use to be as much football stuff. There was basketball stuff, but there’s a lot more football stuff right now than there used to be in the summer.

I think basketball’s been pretty consistent over the time I’ve been here."

Coach Roberts also sees a problem with teenagers having too many options.

“Summertime is tough,” said Roberts. “Unfortunately it’s a beast that has gotten on the verge of being out of control pretty much everywhere.

One of the things I try to do is to do the best I can to give our kids a summer. There’s a lot of football coaches around who go Monday through Thursday with a morning and evening session and make it absolutely 100 percent required. That makes it tough on kids.

That why we go with our Monday, Wednesday, Thursday. My only expectation is if they’re in town, then I expect them to be there from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., 45 minutes inside and 45 outside with a break."

One parent expressed his concern that if his three-sport athlete does not make football his priority, then he will suffer when he plays football.

“I love the three-sport thing, but if a kid doesn’t pick one sport or the other, he is definitely penalized for not picking that sport. That’s what I see and have experienced,” said a parent who wished to remain anonymous.

Roberts denies this.

“Players don’t get penalized for not making workouts, but they do miss the opportunity to learn what we’re doing, because we spend a lot of time outside learning plays,” Roberts said. “It’s pretty evident when we get to fall football, who are the guys who have been around versus the guys who haven’t both physically and mentally.”

Currently the OSAA requires that high school athletes and coaches have no contact for just one week in the summer. Last week that occurred, but now coaches and players are back at it again.

“The OSAA is not going to regulate the summers,” Roberts said. “Unfortunately because they don’t regulate, it’s gotten worse and worse. The moratorium week is great. I wish they would do a moratorium month. With AAU basketball and American Legion baseball, they really can’t. That’s why the moratorium week was last week, because most of the Legion and AAU is done for the summer.”

Both Pollard and Roberts agree that it is in the best interest of a CGHS athlete to play at least two sports.

For the complete article see the 08-07-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 08-07-2013 paper.

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