Prep Sports

Multisport athletes important at Iowa City West - and good for those doing it

HS journalism: With enrollment numbers down, there is a need to do more

Iowa City West’s Mason Applegate, scoring nearfall points in a match last November, thinks doing multiple sports makes him a better overall athlete. He lalso plays football and runs track. (The Gazette)
Iowa City West’s Mason Applegate, scoring nearfall points in a match last November, thinks doing multiple sports makes him a better overall athlete. He lalso plays football and runs track. (The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — It was the golden era of West High athletics.

From 2010 to ’14, “Dynasty High” won 19 state championships across 10 different sports, including seven in the 2011-2012 season alone.

In 2015, the Iowa City Community School District voted to open Liberty High School, forever changing the landscape of one of the state’s most accomplished athletic programs.

After one high school turned into two, the impact on West was not entirely positive.

“We have fewer students in the building, which means that we have fewer students to draw from,” said West athletics director Craig Huegel.

Declined students numbers in the classroom also affected numbers on the athletic fields. Now with less athletes on every team, the remaining athletes have to perform an increasing amount of tasks within the team. With the football team needing athletes for offense and defense, many players find themselves doing both, where they used to specialize in one.

On the other hand, having less enrollments can open doors for some athletes.

“If there are fewer enrollments, there’s also more opportunities to participate on the varsity team,” said head swim coach Byron Butler.

Athletes also get more coaching from the head coaches who can provide more feedback with smaller teams.

It also has forced some to be multisport athletes. Head boys’ track and field coach Travis Craig has noticed a difference between athletes who participate in multiple sports and those who choose to specialize.

“You see very little drop off from season to season, year to year, since they are involved in multidirectional movements throughout the entire year,” Craig said.

Craig encourages athletes to pursue multiple sports to be more well rounded.

According to Stack, a sports and athlete lifestyle magazine and website, multisport athletes have a lower chance of becoming injured because they train with a variety of muscles while practicing different sports. This prevents the athlete from overusing one specific part of their muscles, which could cause an injury.

Since the athlete is exposed to many different team environments, they are able to become familiar with the team aspect.

“Playing multiple sports has always given me an opportunity to get better throughout the whole year,” said sophomore Mason Applegate, a football, wrestling and track athlete. “It has taught me discipline, how to work hard, and what it’s like to be part of a team.”

Junior Matayia Tellis started playing basketball around first or second grade and picked up track starting in the sixth grade.

“I started playing multiple sports because it’s super fun, and I love competing with people; with playing multiple sports you have multiple competitions,” Tellis said.

One benefit to playing multiple sports is that athletes are able to expand their skills as an all-around athlete.

“When I played volleyball it helped with my hops in basketball and jumping over the hurdles,” Tellis said. “Now that I’m in cross country, it helps with my conditioning.”

Huegel encourages more students to be multisport athletes.

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“Many of our best athletes that have come through Iowa City West are multisport athletes,” Huegel said. “They’re kids who maybe basketball’s their favorite sport but they also run track and they’re good at both. But you can still have a lot of success and help your teammates in another sport.”

Chandler is a junior at West, Kitamoto as sophomore

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