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Sherman Oaks Notre Dame's Aaron Haigler won't stop at one sport

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame player plays three sports ... because he can
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame player excels at three sports

Every year, Aaron Haigler faces the same question: "Why do you play three sports?"

And every year, Haigler answers: "Because I can."

At 6 feet 7, 250 pounds, the 17-year-old senior from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame has no plans to change from going to football to basketball to track and field in an era when specializing in one sport has become the trend in high school.

"It's kind of rare these days," he said. "It's really challenging, but my parents are really supportive and my coaches all work together to make it happen. It can be done. It's not impossible."

Football is the sport where he's going to receive a college scholarship — he has committed to Colorado — so now the question is, at what position?

As a tight end, he offers a large target for the quarterback, and he can use his size, strength and agility to be an effective blocker for running backs or receivers down field.

As a defensive end, he showed his strength and speed in flattening West Hills Chaminade quarterback Brad Kaaya last season and figures to be a marked player rushing from the outside. But this fall, with his team needing help on the offensive line, he has volunteered to play some offensive tackle. If he excels, he might not get too many chances to catch the football.

When it comes to versatility, Haigler might rank No. 1 on any team.

"I'm quicker, I'm faster, I'm bigger," he said. "It's all coming together."

Said Coach Kevin Rooney: "He does have great potential. I think he has a great future."

Haigler has been adamant that playing basketball and competing in the shot put and discus have helped his football skills.

"I love all three sports," he said. "In basketball, you have to be quick and jump a lot. You do that in football. In shot put and discus, you have to do a lot of technique stuff and do that over and over and be precise and in football, you have to do that a lot. Every sport has something to do with the other sport. I take a lot of pride in it. I don't take a day off."

One of his role models is former Notre Dame High standout Giancarlo Stanton, who played football, basketball and baseball in high school before signing with the Miami Marlins.

With big hands, size-14 shoes and growing strength from putting on more than 40 pounds, Haigler is thrusting himself into a position to be a force on the football field.

"Being taller than most players gives you a huge advantage being able to see over them," he said. "People look at you and give you certain respect because of how tall you are, and gaining weight fills you out and gives you a more meaningful height, not just bones."

Haigler's aggressiveness and physical nature will be important qualities to help Notre Dame as it competes in the new seven-team Mission League that includes Loyola, Bishop Amat, Crespi, Alemany, Gardena Serra and Chaminade.

To those who remain skeptical about Haigler's being able to play three sports and still emerge as a college prospect, he has this answer:

"Yeah, I can. I can do whatever I want."

Follow Eric Sondheimer on Twitter @LATSondheimer

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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