In an age when prep athletes are playing less and specializing more, Dean Hill went against the flow.
The Boone Grove graduate played four years of football, basketball and baseball, yet looks back at his career and wishes he could have fit in something else.
"I definitely wonder 'what if?' sometimes," Hill said.
Before he began playing Crown Point Junior Bulldogs football, Hill excelled in soccer. He participated track in sixth grade, faring well in a variety of events. Though he never ran cross country, he was a long-distance natural. If not for baseball, Hill would've been on the golf team in the spring. He consistently shoots in the 80s. Hill also had overtures about trying volleyball, leaving wrestling as the only sport at Boone Grove that he never considered.
"I don't know what I would've done with all the time," Hill said at the prospect of taking a season off. "(Assistant football coach Mike) Poynter said, 'Football's a sport where you get to hit someone legally.' Now I'll never get to do it again. I didn't want to get to the end of my senior year, wishing I would've played."
After a few years of high school, many athletes figure out the sport they see as their ticket to college and begin to focus on that. In Hill's case, the choice was basketball. He briefly considered not playing baseball this spring since he was involved in AAU hoops, but coach Rollie Thill gave him the wiggle room to manage both.
Hill won 10 games, leading the Wolves to a sectional title. He also guided the basketball team to a sectional championship as its point guard, and quarterbacked the football team to its first sectional game win.
"Winning sectionals was great, but football, getting that first sectional win was awesome," Hill said. "Everyone was doubting us after every game and we ended up 6-0 before we lost. Beating Wheeler was fantastic. All the seniors going through the first four years of the football program, I think everyone will be remembered somewhat."
In the sectional win over Lake Station, Hill accomplished the rare feat of scoring a touchdown passing, rushing, receiving and on defense. As with basketball and baseball, there were colleges that wanted Hill to strap on the pads and helmet.
"I probably could have played any of them," Hill said. "During football, I was like, 'Hmmm, maybe I could play college football.' During basketball, I was like, 'Oh, it's definitely basketball.' Recently, it was, 'Dang, I could keep playing baseball.' It was just something about basketball that I wanted to keep playing."
Hill will take his hard-court talents to IU-Kokomo. Before putting his attentions all on one sport for the first time, he will play in the North-South All-Star baseball games. Now that it's done, he hopes he sit the bar high enough for other Wolves to try to reach. He's also shown you don't have to sacrifice sports to realize your dream.
"I went real hard," Hill said. "I've had good coaches all the way through, especially in high school. I've been told by other guys, 'I want to play just like you.' For people to want to play as good as you, to use you as a goal to be their best, that's pretty awesome."
This column represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.