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Life as a four-sporter – Crookston Times

Natalie Dillon sports editor

The Senior Award, presented to athletes who have competed in three sports for four years, is a prestigious honor bestowed on few seniors at the Crookston’s Triple A Banquet. Nine seniors won the award that year, including Ally Perreault.

However, Perreault’s circumstance is even rarer. During her senior year, Perreault competed in four sports: volleyball, basketball, track and field, and softball. She is among the few in the school to do so, including sophomores Cassie Solheim and Jackson Reese and junior Ethan Boll.

While these four engage in a variety of sports, they share similar experiences as quadruped athletes.

Put the student in the student-athlete

Athletes are responsible not only for their performance on the field, but also for their performance in the classroom. More specifically, a student cannot participate in a sport unless their grades are verified.

Sometimes this can be difficult as athletes miss school for away competitions. Because of the weather, teams often had multiple games in a week that spring, causing students to miss two consecutive days.

Solheim — a member of the varsity soccer, hockey, track and softball teams — has learned how to make the most of her time getting all her homework done.

“I could do most of it [homework] at school,” Solheim said. “Sometimes when we’re not doing class, I do my homework.”

In addition to time management, students need to communicate with their teachers about their class schedules. If he knows he’s going to miss school—whether for football, hockey, trap, or tennis—Reese will check with his teachers beforehand.

“I ask my teachers what we’re going to do the day before,” Reese said. “I’m trying to do the homework that night so I don’t have to worry about it later.”

Teachers are a big part of a student-athlete’s success. At Crookston, student-athletes are gifted teachers who are personable and go the extra mile.

“The teachers are very understanding and help a lot,” said Boll. “They’ll tutor you, help you with your homework and stuff like that.”

Once they get their academics in order, athletes can focus on their sport.

Always on the go

As four-sport athletes, students get little to no rest during or between seasons, which can often lead to burnout. After advancing to the Section 8A semifinal basketball game, Perreault had just two days off before softball and running practice began. That didn’t bother Perreault, however.

“I like to keep busy,” Perreault said. “Back then, we had free time 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 good to start again.”

Boll—Crookston’s No. 1 running back, state wrestling champion, state qualifying sprinter, and power hitter—feels the same, but he’s still human, too. During the week of May 9, the baseball team had five games, including two doubleheaders, and Boll suffered from fatigue.

“If we have a lot of baseball games in a few days, you get pretty burnt from the last ones,” Boll said.

The softball team also had the same problem and it affected both Perreault and Solheim.

“Because of the weather, we didn’t have any games right away,” said Solheim. “Then suddenly it was BAM! We had games almost every day. Right in the middle I thought oofta, that’s exhausting.”

Perreault and Solheim had to not only think about softball but also focus on track and field. When it came to training and game conflicts, they chose which sport to attend on a case-by-case basis.

“It depended on how important the game or the encounter was,” Solheim said. “One week we had our conference meeting, so we went there via softball. In practice, it depended on what happened that week. If we had a game or a meeting, we would go to that training session the day before.”

Boll, on the other hand, decided on a major sport – baseball – and stuck with it. Reese didn’t have this problem that often since the trap was Wednesday night and tennis landed almost every other day.

Despite the possibility of burnout and scheduling conflicts, athletes see benefits in participating in multiple sports.

Solheim, who recently qualified for the Section 8A running race in the 100m, uses her speed to her advantage in every other sport. She can steal bases and rack up infield hits in softball, or chase down a puck or football.

Reese uses hand-eye coordination when dribbling a soccer ball, racquet handling a puck, hitting a tennis ball, and shooting at a clay target.

Aside from the physical benefits, all athletes attested to forming lifelong friendships through the sport.

A family atmosphere

Whether the reason for starting or the reason for staying, relationships formed in sport contribute to an athlete’s four-sport experience.

While Solheim has met some of her best friends at soccer, hockey, softball, and track, what she’s most enjoyed is cementing bonds with her sister, Rylee.

“People have a lot of influence,” Solheim said. “I’ve played hockey since I was a little kid and Rylee has been a huge influence on it. I’ve loved playing sports with my sister, especially now that she’s graduated.”

Although Boll doesn’t have siblings in any of the sports he plays, his teammates have become family to him.

“Relationships in sport are enormous,” said Boll. “I know so many people that I will be with for the rest of my life. The weightlifting group feels like a fraternity to me.”

Sport also brings different age groups together and forces them to break out of their normal social circles. Perreault experienced this that year as the softball team had many underclassmen.

“I became closer to Cassie and the other sophomores,” Perreault said. “I didn’t know them before, but then I got to hang out with them and get to know their personalities.”

Reap the rewards

Few athletes choose three sports, let alone four. They may fear burnout, want to focus on school, or have more free time.

While all of these disadvantages exist, being a four-sport athlete has many advantages: teachers who help you succeed, an activity that keeps you active, versatile skillset, and lifelong friends who consider you family.

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 considering taking up a fourth sport. “It will be worth it in the end. Now that I’ve graduated, I look back and see that my time was worth it.”

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