Natalie Dillon Sports Editor
The Senior Award, presented to athletes who have participated in three sports for four years, is a respected honor presented to few seniors at Crookston’s Triple A Banquet. This year, nine seniors won the award, including Ally Perreault.
Perreault’s circumstance, however, is even rarer. During her senior year, Perreault participated in four sports: volleyball, basketball, track and field and softball. She is among few in the school that do so, including sophomores Cassie Solheim and Jackson Reese and junior Ethan Boll.
While these four play a variety of sports, they share similar experiences living as a four-sport athlete.
Putting the Student in Student-Athlete
Not only are athletes responsible for their performance on the field, but they are also responsible for their performance in the classroom. To be more precise, a student cannot participate in a sport unless their grades are in check.
Sometimes, this can be difficult, as athletes miss school for away competitions. Due to weather, teams this spring often had multiple games in a week, causing students to miss back-to-back days.
Solheim — a member of the varsity soccer, hockey, track and field and softball teams — has learned how to make the most of her time to get all of her homework done.
“I was able to do most of it [homework] in school, ”Solheim said. “Sometimes, when we aren’t doing stuff in class, I’ll get my homework done.”
Besides time-management, students are required to communicate with their teachers about their schedules. When he knows he will miss school — whether for soccer, hockey, trap or tennis — Reese will coordinate with his teachers ahead of time.
“I ask my teachers what we will do the day before,” Reese said. “I try to do the homework that night, so I don’t have to stress about it later.”
Teachers are a huge part of a student-athlete’s success. At Crookston, student-athletes are gifted with teachers who are sympathetic and will go the extra mile.
“The teachers are very understanding and will help out a lot,” Boll said. “They will reteach to you, help with you with homework and stuff like that.”
Once they have their academics all squared away, the athletes can focus on their sports.
Always on the Go
As a four-sport athlete, students get little to no break during or between seasons, which can often lead to burnout. After advancing to the Section 8A semi-final basketball game, Perreault had just two days’ rest before softball and track practice started. This didn’t bother Perreault, though.
“I like to stay busy,” Perreault said. “Those days we had off between the winter sports season and the spring sports season, I was so bored. I don’t like sitting at home and looking at my phone all the time. It felt nice to start back up again. “
Boll — Crookston’s No. 1 running back, State wrestling champion, State-qualifying sprinter and power hitter — echoed the same sentiment, but he, too, is still human. The week of May 9, the baseball team had five games, including two doubleheaders, and Boll experienced fatigue.
“When we have a lot of baseball games in a few days, you’re pretty burnt up by the last ones,” Boll said.
The softball team experienced the same issue, too, and it affected both Perreault and Solheim.
“Because of the weather, we didn’t have games right away,” Solheim said. “Then it was all of a sudden, BAM! We had games almost every day. In the middle of that, I thought oofta, this is tiring. “
Not only did Perreault and Solheim have to think about softball, but they also had to focus on track and field. When it came to practice and game conflicts, they chose which sport to attend on a case-by-case basis.
“It depended on how important the game or meet was,” Solheim said. “One week we had our conference meet, so we went to that over softball. For practice, it depended on what went on that week. If we had a game or meet coming up, we’d go to that practice the day before. “
Boll, on the other hand, chose a priority sport — baseball — and stuck with it. Reese didn’t experience this problem as often since trap was on Wednesday evenings and tennis landed on most every other day.
Despite the possibility of burnout and scheduling conflicts, the athletes see benefits in participating in multiple sports.
Solheim, who recently qualified for the Section 8A track meet in the 100m dash, uses her speed to her advantage in every other sport. She can steal bases and collect infield hits in softball or chase a puck or soccer ball down.
Reese uses hand-eye coordination in dribbling a soccer ball, stick handling a puck, hitting a tennis ball and shooting a clay target.
Aside from physical benefits, all the athletes attested to creating lifelong friendships through sports.
A Family Atmosphere
Whether the reason for starting or the reason for staying, relationships made in sports contribute to the four-sport athlete experience.
While Solheim has met some of her best friends playing soccer, hockey, softball and track, she’s enjoyed strengthening the relationship with her sister, Rylee, the most.
“The people have a big impact,” Solheim said. “I’ve been playing hockey since I was a little kid, and Rylee was a big influence in that. I loved playing sports with my sister, especially now that she’s graduated. “
Although Boll doesn’t have a sibling in any of the sports he plays, his teammates have grown to become family to him.
“Relationships in sports are huge,” Boll said. “I know so many people that I will be with and around the rest of my life. The weightlifting group feels like a brotherhood to me. “
Sports also bring different ages together, forcing them to break out of their normal social circles. Perreault experienced that this year, as the softball team had many underclassmen.
“I grew closer with Cassie and the other sophomores,” Perreault said. “I didn’t know them before, but then I got to hang out with them and learn their personalities.”
Reaping the Rewards
Few athletes choose to participate in three sports, let alone four. They might be afraid of burnout, want to focus on school or have more free time.
While all of these cons exist, being a four-sport athlete has many pros: teachers who help you succeed, an activity to keep you active, a versatile skillset and lifelong friends that you consider family.
When reflecting on her senior year, Perreault wouldn’t change her athletic experience.
“Just go with your gut and try something new,” Perreault said of athletes contemplating picking up a fourth sport. “It will be worth it in the end. Now that I’m graduated, I look back and see it was worth my time. “