Switch it up

“It’s my last year to try something new,” said swimmer-turned-track athlete Allen Miller ’07, who decided to pick up a new sport in his senior year. Miller was a varsity swimmer for three years before deciding to drop the sport in favor of track and field.

Miller is not alone. Upperclassmen, especially seniors, are switching to new sports and picking up new ones late in their high school careers. Track seems to be a popular option, as eight of 27 upperclassmen on the team are in their first year.

Varsity basketball player Gaven Lucas ’08 is one of those athletes. Unlike Miller, Lucas did not drop a sport to pick up another. He joined the track team this spring so that he could gain speed for next winter.

“The main thing is that I really just want to get faster,” he said. “If I can gain some more speed, it can definitely help my skills on the court.”

For Lucas, the spring training offered for the basketball team to keep athletes in shape just wasn’t enough.

“We were on the court three days a week and only running on the track two days a week,” he said. “It’s just not that heavy on conditioning. The fall [training] is way more intense.”

And it goes both ways. While athletes have joined the track team to improve, those sports give them valuable skills that can be used in track. Not surprisingly, Lucas and fellow varsity basketball player Eric Swoope ’10 have both participated in the high jump.

“Soccer definitely helped me with speed and endurance,” said Lizzy Danhakl ’07, who won two first-place medals in the 800m and 1600m races at an invitational track meet this Saturday.

Andy Firestone ’08, who joined the varsity soccer team after a two-year hiatus from the sport to focus on football, found that skills he picked up on the gridiron helped him on the pitch.

“Football helped me get a lot more aggressive on the field and have a more physical mentality,” he said.

Many athletes have had some background in the sports they pick up in their junior or senior years, playing marks a return for them. Jon Sebastian ’07 played volleyball at St. Matthew’s and “casually” on the beach in recent years. Firestone played soccer at the Middle School and with the club Arsenal.

“I got kind of burned out because of club,” Firestone explains. He quit soccer in ninth grade and after a stint on the freshman basketball team, he decided to spend more time on football.

In her words, Jameise Rozier ’07 is “no stranger to running.”  A former center on the varsity basketball team, Rozier is shot putting and throwing discus this year on the track team.

“I wanted to join track since ninth grade, but I could never bring myself to it,” she said. “But this year, I had no excuse. This is senior year, my last chance ever. I better do it.”