In the morning, it’s football practice. After lunch, it’s basketball practice. In the evening, it’s working with a personal trainer and then hitting a few balls, shagging fly balls and fielding grounders in baseball.
It’s just a typical weekday during the summer for Jaydon Hamilton.
“Rest is the No. 1 thing,” said Hamilton. “It’s football in the morning. After football practice, you have basketball practice. You go home, take a little nap and eat. Then go to baseball. Sometimes I go to the Urban Youth Academy in New Orleans. Sometimes I go to Traction (Sports Performance) in Baton Rouge. Sometimes I just go the (Edgard) park and work out with my team.
“It’s all about getting in as much work as you can. After you’ve done it, you have to make sure you get that rest. If you don’t, you will crash.”
Hamilton is just one example of several multi-sport athletes at West St. John High School.
At West St. John, a small Class 1A school, playing multiple sports is not only a passion, but almost a necessity.
In order to field teams in various sports at a school like West St. John, it takes the dedication of young athletes who are willing to go through the rigors of playing multiple sports.
That’s something that has become a tradition at West St. John and is instilled at an early age.
“It’s part of the culture at West St. John. You see young kids go to football games and then they see these same kids playing basketball and baseball and all these sports and when they go to West St. John they’ve seen that and they want that, too,” said West St. John baseball coach Gregory Joseph.
“It definitely has to be something that you want to do,” said West St. John football coach Brandon Walters. “We don’t chase our kids. You either come to practice or you don’t get to participate. It has to be a loyalty to the program, the sport, dedication to getting better and bettering yourself on every phase of it.
“We look at it for the multi-sport guys, you are going from sport to sport, and it’s also beneficial to those guys that may not have found a spot yet in this particular sport or that particular sport, so they are kind of looking at all of them and eventually they find something they can gravitate to that they really love, and that’s the goal.”
“I commend the guys,” West St. John baseball coach Alton Joseph said. “They have some great legs because when I think I was in high school, that would have been hard to do. For them to balance and go to football practice and then come to basketball practice, and some of them even play baseball, all throughout one week. They play games, they do 7 on 7 and still manage to be fresh and to be able to compete in games, I commend them.”
Like Hamilton, who will be a junior in the fall, senior Trenton Grow is a multi-sport athlete. He plays football and basketball along with running track.
“When you go out for these sports, you basically sign up for it. It’s a lot of work. We do a lot of running and conditioning to stay in shape and keep your body healthy,” said Grow.
Wantrell Williams, who will be a senior in the fall, participates in football, baseball and track.
“You come back in the a.m. and do the same thing constantly. You work hard, but it pays off. Our coaches help us get ready for college,” Williams said.
D’Andre Gaudia, the Rams’ quarterback in football, also plays baseball.
“It’s very challenging but I don’t practice baseball as much in the summer as I do football,” Gaudia explained. “When I do, it will be after football. I do football in the morning and baseball in the evening.”
It’s all just a matter of making things, according to Gaudia.
“I’m very dedicated in sports because I’m trying to make it. I have a lot a of summertime free time, but at the end of the day, you always have time to yourself. You get the work in early in the morning and enjoy the rest of the day and the evening.”
For Jalen Walker, an offensive lineman in football and a baseball player in the spring, there is a certain pride that comes with the accomplishments of a multi-sport athlete.
“First, it builds character,” said Walker. “It helps me to get better for both sports. Football helps me to get better for baseball.”
Some sports rely more on certain muscle groups than others. Likewise, weight training for one sport like football – where an athlete might use weightlifting to get bigger and stronger – might be different than in another sport built more for agility and quickness.
The key, said Walker, is to make all of the workouts go hand-in-hand.
“Quicker feet, running and getting stronger and more powerful. Lifting weights, that helps,” said Walker.
The coaches, in turn, have to keep the needs of the athletes in mind for a specific sport, as well as overcall conditioning.
“I read a lot to make sure to keep the kids healthy and not overwork them. I’ve studied about it a lot, just to make sure I implement drills that, knowing that what we did for football, try to be opposite. Like in basketball, if I know we worked super hard in football, basketball might be more of a mental practice,” said Alton Joseph.
“It’s a totally different set of conditioning for each guy. It’s beneficial to those guys because you are touching different parts of the body. Different needs require different sets of exercise and regiments as far as the conditioning that we do.
“Our football team probably says we run like a basketball and our basketball guys probably say we lift like a football players.”
While someone like Hamilton works to keep in shape for all of the sports he participates in, his attention in terms of a workout routine starts to gear more toward football since it will be the first sport of the new school year.
“Right now, I’m trying to put my weight on because I should be getting some time in the backfield (in football),” said Hamilton, who also plays in the defensive secondary. “I’m trying to put weight on but I’m also working on speed and agility with my personal trainer – getting my feet right, having better hips – that also transfers to baseball. In baseball, you use your hips a lot.
“Putting on weight, yes, it does take a toll on you in basketball, running up and down the court, but conditioning, whatever we are doing, it’s weight training and then we go outside for conditioning and make sure we keep a balance.”
It’s much the same for Grow.
“What I try to do, is I try to get as big as I can because with all the running, I don’t think I will gain too much so just do a lot of lifting, running and staying in shape,” said Grow.
To make it all work, it takes a coordinated effort from the coaches involved.
“We don’t bump heads,” said Alton Joseph. “Sometimes when we go 7 on 7 and we may have a basketball game, I let the kids choose basically. Some kids love football, some kids love basketball. If they want to go to football, I don’t take that away from them. If they want to come to basketball, Coach Walters won’t take that away from them.”
“We try to stay out of each others’ way because of the demands for each of the kids,” said Walters. “We have a good relationship among the coaches. We communicate a lot and that’s the biggest key,
“For me, as long as they are working, I don’t mind at all.”
That’s something a player like Hamilton said he appreciates.
“My coaches actually make it easier for me to do all three. Football season, we go all the way through. Basketball season comes up and then at the end of basketball season when baseball season is coming up, we actually go half and half. Half the practice we will go to basketball and the next week we go to baseball. It depends what we have that day,” said Hamilton.
Sometimes, the coach’s role may be just to get a player to back off.
“As a coach, sometimes I have to tell him, ‘you have to take a break. You’ve got to let some of that stuff settle in,” said Gregory Joseph.
When fall comes around, school and grades come to the forefront.
“We have to worry about our grades and stuff and doing good in school from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then it’s on the field and in the weight room,” Williams said.
Along with juggling three different sports, Hamilton carries a 3.8 grade point average in the classroom.
“My parents always told me the No. 1 thing is school. I’m a student-athlete so school comes first. My dad always told me, if I bring the grades home, they will find a way to do whatever I want to do. If I want to play soccer on the moon, they will find a way,” said Hamilton.
When it’s all said and done, the final question is why go through it all?
“It helps the West St. John community,” said Williams. “It helps our team, our coaches and our other players. It’s a feeling.”