By Jocelyn Rowley Sports@lhvc.com Dec 23, 2017
Niwot senior Tyler Crall didn’t have much time to lament the end of his high school soccer career. Less than 48 hours after the Cougars’ semifinal loss to Centaurus in the Class 4A state playoffs on Nov. 8, the second-year varsity defenseman switched out his cleats for sneakers in preparation for the upcoming Niwot boys’ basketball season, which officially opened on Nov. 10.
In 18 games with the Niwot soccer team this year, Crall had four goals on 13 shots, but made his bones as a member of the Cougars’ nearly impenetrable backfield, along with fellow seniors Nicholas Grant, Cam Lee and Abel Marrufo. All season long, the Cougars allowed just 19 goals, a major factor in their deepest playoff run since 2011.
Out on the hardwood, Crall has proved himself a natural leader in his first year as a varsity starter. In the early weeks of the 2017-18 season, he leads the team in assists (17) and steals (12).
“He’s always looking to make the next right play for his team and isn’t afraid to get physical with bigger players,” said Niwot head basketball coach Eric Hejl of his 5’ 11” point guard. “We rely on him a lot for his ball-handling, aggressive defense and his willingness to take charges.”
As a starter on both a fall and winter sports team, Crall stands out as one of the increasingly rare high-school athletes to eschew the trend of specializing. Though he admitted there are advantages to sticking to a single sport, in terms of skill-building and playing opportunities, he also said that mixing it up provides intangible benefits that are hard to get elsewhere.
“Being a multi-sport athlete gives you a different perspective on the sport that other players might not see,” he said. “On top of that it always keeps you in shape and ready to go when switching from sport to sport. Also, by getting a change in movements, plays, and objectives, it helps prevent burnout in a single sport.”
For Crall, sports are also a natural antidote to stressful academic demands, which the senior is no stranger to. He currently maintains a 4.1 GPA, and just completed his first semester concurrently enrolled at Niwot and Front Range Community College, where he earned straight A’s in several college-level courses. He is also a member of the National Honor Society, and plays club soccer in the spring. Though he hasn’t finalized his post-graduation plans as of yet, he would like to play soccer while pursuing a four-year degree somewhere “out west.”
“In all honesty it takes some self-motivation to get things done and show up on time, little things like that,” he said. “By being part of sports teams and keeping up with school, it helped me with time management. Sports is a great way to get away from all the school work and just clear your head, so when returning to academic work you’re more motivated to do it.”