Playing multiple sports helps athletes, teams

By Joanna Chadwick

Three of the Maize boys basketball team starters — Jacob Hanna, Avery Johnson and Kyle Grill — are also standouts in other sports.

All three play for the football team, which was 9-1 — Hanna and Grill at receiver, Johnson at quarterback. Johnson also plays baseball and Hanna is a high jumper.

“There’s a couple things that I’ve always pushed with multiple-sport athletes is that they can’t trade competition,” Maize coach Chris Grill said. “I know they want to focus on getting bigger, stronger, quicker, faster. And that’s all important. But there’s also the ability to compete day in and day out, not only against other teams, but against people in practice. When you stop doing that, when you’re not competing every day, you lose a little bit.

“The second part is injuries. When you do the same thing over and over and over again, you wear your body out doing the same thing every day. You have a tendency to become more injury prone by using the same set of muscles in your body.”

Grill, who is Kyle’s dad, played football and basketball at Augusta. He also played basketball for two years and track for two. While in middle school, he did track, basketball, football and wrestling.

His oldest son, Caleb, was a three-sport star in football, basketball and track. Caleb Grill plays basketball at UNLV.

Chris Grill has encouraged his own sons, as well as his players, to continue to play multiple sports.

“i encourage them to stick it out for two years,” Grill said. “A few years ago, I encouraged a kid to go out for any sport. Soccer, cross country — it’s amazing how much better shape this player was. I could leave him in the game a lot longer because he had developed the lung capacity.”

It doesn’t hurt that athletes get challenged — that maybe they’re not the best player in their secondary sport.

“Those players learn to appreciate the people who are coming out for their sport to make the team better. So when they go out for another sport, they may not be the best player, but they know different ways to help the team,” Grill said. “They’re more humble. It works really, really well.”