Bring Back Dual Sport Athletes For Sake of Students


Alex Kane

Southern Lehigh’s Magnificent Seven – Dual Sport Athletes.

Natalie Morgan, Annefleur Fooji, Ashley Meinhold, Lauren Meinhold, Aiden Sharper, and Will Kane. These six athletes play two sports in the fall season, but due to an unwise change in Southern Lehigh School District athletic department policy, they will be the last of their kind. 

Previously, athletes could participate in two sports in a season if given special dispensation by athletic director Mr. Marc Zimmerman. Starting two years ago, however, Mr. Zimmerman determined he would no longer grant such permission. Existing dual sport athletes were allowed to continue playing two sports in the same season, but no new student athletes would be allowed to join their numbers.

“I want to see as many kids as possible participate in our programs, and it’s important to be fair to all of those participants by holding them to the same attendance standards,” Mr. Zimmerman said. “We are fortunate to have high participation numbers in our programs, [but] many of which have to conduct cuts in order to keep the numbers manageable.” 

While I applaud Mr. Zimmerman’s goal of seeing as many student-athletes as possible participate, the simple fact of the matter is that some people are more athletic than others. There will almost always be athletes cut from a team due to high interest levels, and that is, at some level, based on merit and achievement. 

Even a returning athlete might not make a team the following year for several reasons: a more skilled new player, other players training harder in the offseason, or even due to a coach choosing an athlete due to seniority. Students might also not make the team due to injury, which becomes more possible when playing two sports.

 “ There have been a few student-athletes that were approved to be able to [play two sports in a season] a couple of years ago, and the injury rate is pretty high,” Mr. Zimmerman said. “That obviously can depend on what sports someone is playing, but it’s a concern our athletic trainers, coaches, and myself certainly have.”

True, dual sporting isn’t easy on the body; participating in two sports, sometimes with multiple competitions on the same day, can take a toll.

“I had no injuries sophomore and junior year, but as a senior I got shin splints,” Ashley Meinhold said. “It was hard having the injury and having to represent both teams [and not compete].”

I can’t personally solve the issue of injury, as that is up to the athlete and district athletics personnel to find a solution, but there must be a better way than to deprive talented student-athletes of the opportunity to compete at a high level in multiple sports a season. 

Participation in two sports creates opportunities for students to continue to pursue their interests without having to choose which team will benefit from their talents.

I was able to have such a good experience with two teams [soccer and cross country]” senior Lauren Meinhold said. “Most people don’t get that most schools don’t do that, and I was able to help out both teams in different ways.”

“We were able to have a lot of depth when people did both soccer and cross country,” senior Ashley Meinhold said. “I guess certain teams wouldn’t have as much depth.”

To best solve the issues associated with dual sport athletics, I humbly suggest that we place the choice where it belongs; with the individual athletes and coaches. Let them decide the path they want to take, and don’t take away another opportunity from students who have already missed so many of them these past two years due to COVID.

“I don’t know what [my high school] experience would have been like if I hadn’t played both [sports],” said Ashley Meinhold.