Seasoned by the seasons

Let me preface this by saying I am in no way, shape or form marginalizing the efforts and accomplishments of high school students who participate in just one sport. I don’t want to turn this into an ”us vs. them” column. Different strokes for different folks.

I would like to take a moment, though, to underline both the achievements and importance of local athletes Sam Kolacia, Johnny Bice, Robert Flattery and Colin Flattery. The recently-graduated Fort Dodge and St. Edmond seniors may not have grabbed all the headlines in their respective sports through the years, but they did a lot of the heavy lifting for their programs in all four seasons without hesitation.

Kolacia was a two-time all-district selection in football for the Dodgers, where he established new FDSH records for career receptions and interceptions. He was an all-conference performer in basketball, made the all-CIML team in baseball, and was a two-time state track qualifier.

Bice landed on the all-district squad in football as well, where he now ranks among the school’s most prolific passers of all-time. He lettered in basketball, also ran at state track, and played third base in every game this summer.

Like Bice, Robert Flattery was a quarterback who participated in basketball and baseball. In addition to being named all-district on the gridiron and all-conference on the diamond, Flattery was a vital cog in the Gaels’ state runner-up performance on the golf course last spring. He placed fourth individually in Class 2A.

Colin Flattery helped St. Edmond’s cross country team reach the state meet, and was a member of the Gaels’ state championship 4×800 relay quartet in track. He was a starter in basketball, and garnered all-NCC recognition in baseball as well.

While their frenetic athletic schedules speak for themselves, the quartet recently received recognition for their work in a much more important arena: the classroom. Kolacia and Bice, who both graduated with cumulative grade point averages over 3.9, matched their academic all-state honors from football with the same award in baseball. The Flattery cousins were also academic all-staters this summer; Robert sported an overall GPA of 3.9, with Colin right behind at 3.8.

The specialization debate will continue in living rooms and coaches’ meetings across the country for years to come. Almost everyone directly – or even indirectly – involved has steadfast opinions on either the physical benefits or limitations of concentrating on one sport versus playing the field.

We could juggle the rights and wrongs all day long. The incontrovertible truth? Athletic departments like Fort Dodge Senior High and St. Edmond would be lost without Kolacia, Bice, Flattery and Flattery joining the dozens of other student-athletes who move from sport to sport every year as the seasons change.

I don’t know if the individuals are better off when they diversify, but their programs absolutely are. In a day and age where participation numbers are dwindling for a multitude of reasons, it’s worth crediting those who share their talents among a wide variety of classmates and coaches through the years. It may not always be the easiest or even the ”best” path to take, but your teams wouldn’t be the same without you.

Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. He may be reached afternoons and evenings at 1-800-622-6613, or by e-mail at sports@messengernews.net