After playing catcher in the first game, senior Emil Erickson rushes from his baseball doubleheader to his tennis match. And then after finishing the match, he drives back to the baseball game in time for the third inning.
This was the struggle Erickson faced as he devoted much of his time to playing sports across all seasons.
Country Day teams often struggle to fill their rosters, and most students play a couple sports per year. But two seniors have dedicated their high-school careers to playing as many sports as possible across all seasons.
Senior Aidan Cunningham has participated in boys’ soccer, varsity basketball, lacrosse, baseball, cross country, and ski and snowboarding, while Erickson has competed on the boys’ basketball, baseball, ski and snowboarding, cross country, tennis, and soccer teams.
On multiple occasions Erickson has played in matches when he wasn’t even on the team due to a lack of players.
Erickson filled in for a lacrosse match and a golf match in his junior year and ran a cross country meet as a sophomore.
Although Erickson had no prior experience with any of these sports, he adjusted quickly because he’s a well-rounded athlete, he said.
For instance, during the lacrosse game, Erickson scored two goals.
“I wasn’t that great at throwing the ball,” Erickson said. “But I still easily adjusted because of the hand-eye coordination I (had already) developed in baseball.”
And Erickson’s natural talent is why athletic director Matt Vargo often approaches Erickson to fill out a team.
Erickson’s a very good overall athlete with great time management, which means it’s no problem for him to play a last-minute game, Vargo said.
Erickson is generally open to helping a team out last second because he knows how hard it is for a team not to play just because they’re missing a player.
But this is athletics at Country Day; teams are strapped for players.
And although Cunningham hasn’t ever filled in at the last minute, he said he would be glad to.
Along with helping out teams here and there, both seniors play a plethora of sports across all seasons.
“I prefer playing more than one sport because then I’m less likely to burn out of a sport,” Cunningham said.
That’s why when deciding between his high-school choices of Christian Brothers, Jesuit, and Country Day, Cunningham chose to attend SCDS, where he could play as many sports as he wanted despite a lack of experience or particular talent.
In fact, Cunningham has never concentrated on one sport. In middle school he played soccer and lacrosse, although he played lacrosse more than any sport until he broke his arm freshman year and fell off competitively.
Erickson primarily played soccer as a child, but he was still active in other sports, he said.
Both of their athletic trends continued on into high school, where they instantly became top-tier athletes in their class.
Basketball coach David Ancrum said that Cunningham is one of the best athletes he’s been around in his 17 years at Country Day.
“He can play pretty much every sport, he’s tough, and most importantly he’s mentally strong,” Ancrum said. “Whether it’s a bigger or faster guy, it doesn’t matter; he always competes.”
Baseball coach Chris Millsback praised Erickson for being “an amazing centerfielder this year.
“Not many balls dropped in for hits when (Erickson) was in the outfield,” Millsback said.
Erickson’s athletic talent proves to be true since he has received many awards across the sports he’s played, such as second team all-league and honorable mention for soccer, and all-league for tennis.
He also won the Dale Lacky Scholarship on April 25 for his athletic and academic achievements throughout high school.
Erickson attributes a lot of his academic success to the number of sports he played, since sports relieve stress for him, help him focus on school, and give him necessary physical activity.
And sports were also Erickson’s gateway for finding friends as a new freshman at SCDS.
“I joined the soccer team (freshman year), and I instantly made new friends,” he said. “This set me up for the next four years (here).”
He also joined the cross country team his senior year because his friends – seniors Jaelan Trapp, Cunningham, Adam Dean and Christian Van Vleck – were on it.
Likewise, Cunningham joined the baseball team as a junior since many of his friends were on it.
Cunningham said that he gravitates towards sports that require hand-eye or foot-eye coordination, which is why he decided to pick up baseball as well as continue playing lacrosse his junior year.
Although both of these seniors’ athletic careers are coming to an end at Country Day, they certainly aren’t over forever.
Erickson hopes to continue his athletic involvement at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he plans to spend more time at the gym than playing sports, he said.
And Cunningham is planning on continuing snowboarding in the mountains at University of Denver, where he also wants to play either basketball or soccer intramurally.
Cunningham may add yet another sport to his athletic portfolio. Depending on the prices of bikes, he may begin mountain biking.
“We obviously will miss (Erickson and Cunningham) both,” Vargo said. “We’ve had those kinds of athletes before, and hopefully we’ll have them again.”
—By Katia Dahmani