Before They Were Runners
Youth sports has been in the news lately. A good portion of this press is not reassuring: the pressures, the early specialization, and rising rates of sports burnout and injury in middle and high school athletes for those who specialize early. [Further research regarding early sport specialization.]
I got the idea for this blog while hanging out with our inspiring Christy Cazzola in February after her Dempsey race…and she told me about her HS success in wrestling and how it benefitted her running. Talk about tough! And that made me wonder, how many of our Haute Volée competed in non-running HS sports? Turns out, a flock of them! Check out these awesome stories and HS throwback shots…we are so proud of our multi-sport stars!
"I loved skiing for my high school. Unlike running, skiing did not come naturally to me. It was something I really had to work and focus at. It made me really appreciate my talented teammates and it also made me appreciate running more!" - Kara Goucher
"I grew up swimming and practiced or competed 6 days a week from age 6 to 18. Then, running stole my heart away. I was a fairly average swimmer but I think it prepared me to be comfortable with individual competition while still being able to bond and relate to my competitors. Some traditions have remained consistent…I still sing a song and do a small dance on the start line of every race." - Kara Foster
"My experiences with both individual and team sports have definitely made me into a more well-rounded person. Not only do you develop skills to help you work with multiple personalities towards a common goal, but sport also teaches loyalty, trust, and compassion for others." - Heidi Greenwood
"I started playing soccer when I was 4 years old and continued through high school. I almost chose not to run in high school thinking my future was in soccer. I finally hung up my cleats permanently after my senior varsity high school season and got serious about running. Soccer taught me how to be competitive and gave me the work ethic I have today. Most importantly, soccer taught me just how much I hated to lose." - Andie Cozarelli
"I alpine ski raced all through high school. This is where I developed the "fearlessness" my collegiate coaches would later see in me for running the steeplechase. While I still love the skiing, I am so grateful I don't have to wax or tune my running shoes!" - Shalaya Kipp
"Things that are key in soccer:
- Not hesitating. When going into a tackle, a header, or a race for a loose ball, any time spent waiting scared, just increases the chances that the whole ordeal will be messy and painful.
- Communicating concisely, so you can be heard, understood. I played defense. Being able to organize, and share instructions while in a game situation, was key to holding off other teams." - Kate Grace
"Going to a small private high school in San Antonio, Texas, most students were in multiple sports due to the low numbers of students. For my three years there, I played basketball (Sr year), softball (Sr year), cheerleading (Jr year), and swimming (Soph & Jr years), along with cross country all three years. The best takeaway from the randomness of my participation is that one doesn't have to be the best athletes as long as you have the heart to never give up and fight till the end." - Andrea Duke
"Basketball was a huge part of my high school life! I was fortunate enough to be starting point guard for our varsity team for three years soph-senior year. Basketball taught me so many life lessons such as leadership, teamwork, dedication, poise, friendship etc. Basketball helped me become the person I am today!" - Heather Lieberg
"I started playing soccer in first grade, and I continued all the way up to my senior year of high school, during which I played in both the fall and the spring. Soccer taught me how to think in terms of strategy and to anticipate what was coming next, which carried over into my racing tactics in running. Funny enough, my best soccer games were always after running in a cross country meet two hours prior!" - Jordan Hamric
"I played basketball from about 7th grade through high school every winter and summer. I would say the two most important lessons from basketball were teamwork and toughness. We had one drill that sticks out in my mind where two girls would stand side by side and our coach would roll the ball down the court and shout and GO! Then it was an all out battle to dive on the ball first. Elbows and knees flying everywhere, serious court rash and wrestling matches but all that mattered was coming up with the ball in your hands. You learned to toughen up real quick." - Megan Rolland
"Wrestling allowed me to build new muscles, which helped me develop into a stronger and better runner. High school wrestling didn't just challenge me to keep up in an (at the time) all-boys sport, it challenged our school and community culture. I earned respect from rumored "male chauvinists"—who actually just expected a high level of hard work and excellence. Our coach (Coach Metczak) taught us about life, taking chances, and living in the moment." - Christy Cazzola