The plight of the three-sport athlete is a character-builder. It’s even more grueling for someone taking part in four sports.
Just ask Boone Central/Newman Grove senior Jessie Sullivan, who has every right to scoff at the notion that a summer break from school is a good time for a student-athlete to relax.
Simply put, there is no down time.
Consider that for the last four years, Sullivan has awakened before 6 a.m. on most summer week days to be in the weight room by 6:30 a.m. After an hour of weight training, he went to work at the local lumberyard.
His flexible work schedule allowed him to leave for basketball and football camps, as well as summer league basketball games, where playing five games in a day wasn’t uncommon.
He’d then go home for a bite to eat before leaving for baseball, which occupied him most evenings each night.
“I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” said Sullivan an all-state performer in basketball and football this season and a contender to win gold next month in the shot put and discus at the state track meet in Omaha. “All of this has become just a part of me.”
Sullivan is an undisputed Super Seniors selection. The list was put together by former Telegram sports editor Kollin Miller.
The variety of sports have made him more well-rounded athletically, but his motivation for taking part in so many sports, he said, was more for his school than for his own self-interests.
“In small communities, you can’t have people focus on just one sport because you don’t have enough athletes,” he said. “You’ve got a set number of athletes in these small towns and there are kids like me who are in all of the sports. For the schools to succeed, we need for kids to be participating in more than just one.”
And while Sullivan looks back fondly on his hectic summers, he’s looking forward to enjoying a little down time as he prepares to focus on just one of the sports collegiately.
He had decided to compete in track at the University of South Dakota. However, new University of Nebraska football coach Scott Frost offered the 6-foot-4, 250-pound lineman a preferred walk-on spot last week — something that he is seriously considering.
“Having this opportunity is pulling at me,” said Sullivan, a lifelong Huskers fan. “This will be a tough decision.”
No matter which sport he chooses, it will take a back seat to academics and his goal of becoming a medical doctor.
“Academics have always come first for me,” he said. “My education has got to be my main focus, whether its track or football, it’s got to come second, no matter where I go. I want to make the best decision academically for myself. I will work hard and do well where ever I am.”