Increasing time demands placed on high school athletes make it difficult to excel in more than one sport.
In addition to year-round weight training, a football player, for example, usually also participates in spring drills and a summer passing league. Basketball and baseball players have similarly rigorous schedules.
Despite such constraints, Chris McAlister of Pasadena has been able to shuffle three sports--football, basketball and track--for the last two years. He is part of a dying breed of three-sport athletes.
"I have weekends off for personal time," said McAlister, a senior. "But when you're doing something you love, you don't mind. It's not a sacrifice."
McAlister, 17, was the Bulldogs' starting quarterback the last two seasons and occasionally played defensive back, running back and on special teams. He was voted to the All-Southern Section Division II team and was selected honorable mention All-State by Cal Hi Sports.
Football is his favorite sport, and he is being recruited by UCLA, Washington State and Nebraska. He expects to be a running back or defensive back in college.
"I played quarterback because they needed somebody and I was able to adapt pretty easily," said the 6-2, 180-pound McAlister.
He is a starting forward on the basketball team, which is 14-5 this season and a perennial power. In track, he runs the 100 meters, 110-high hurdles and competes in the long jump and triple jump. He placed fourth in the long jump at the Southern Section Division I final last May with a mark of 22 feet 2 1/2 inches.
McAlister receives plenty of support from his father, James, who was a standout athlete at Pasadena Blair High in the '60s and later as a star running back and long jumper at UCLA. James, 43, spent four years in the pros with three teams. He is now a special education teacher at Longfellow Elementary in Pasadena and is an assistant football coach and head track coach at Pasadena.
"I've been able to coach Chris in almost all of his sports at one time or another," he said. "I'm very proud of his accomplishments, but I've always let him make his own decisions and never tried to push him in one direction."
Excelling in three sports has drawbacks. Study time is more limited, and McAlister recently had to take a break from basketball to concentrate on studying for the Scholastic Assessment Test he will retake in two weeks. He still needs to score at least 700 points on the SAT to gain eligibility at a four-year college. He hopes to rejoin the basketball team later this month.
"It's very rare to find a kid who can balance three demanding sports and keep the same level of intensity for each," said Bill Duwe, Pasadena's basketball coach.
Crenshaw basketball standout Ronnie Arch rejoined the team last Friday after missing three weeks because he violated his probation.
Arch, a 6-6 senior guard averaging 17 points, was suspended for having six unexcused absences from two of his classes. That was a violation of his parole from a unspecified crime he committed when he was 13.
"The judge wants to see me get my diploma from high school," said Arch, who is 17. "I will probably be off (probation) in March with a good report card."
Crenshaw is the two-time defending State Division I champion.
Ed Paculba recently resigned as football coach at Wilmington Banning after three difficult seasons.
Booster club members and school supporters have been campaigning vigorously for the return of Chris Ferragamo, who was 157-36-4 from 1969-86, including eight City Section titles. He has shown some interest in the vacant position, although last week he said he was leaning against returning.
"If my personal situation was different, I might take the job," said Ferragamo, who is a science teacher at Banning and also helps his son with a private business.
Santa Ana Mater Dei boys' basketball standout Schea Cotton will be sidelined at least three weeks because of a hamstring injury he suffered in a game last week against San Clemente. Cotton is a sophomore forward. . . . Six high school boys' basketball teams will participate in the first Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Challenge Saturday night at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. The Challenge consists of three games: Long Beach Millikan-Rowland at 5:20 p.m., Inglewood-Palos Verdes Peninsula at 7 and Compton Dominguez-Westchester at 8:40. . . . Rich Prospero, who built the Santa Ana Valley boys' basketball team into a power the last four seasons, resigned for personal reasons last week. Prospero was 64-29 and led the Falcons to the playoffs three times. He was replaced by Kevin Stipp, the girls' basketball coach, who will oversee both programs the rest of the season. . . . Washington and Westchester, two of the top City Section boys' basketball teams, were upset last Friday. Banning defeated Washington, 43-42, and Hamilton knocked off Westchester, 66-65. It was Hamilton's first victory over Westchester since 1985. . . . Quarterback Ryan Roques of Moreno Valley Canyon Springs, The Times' Inland Empire back of the year, said he will sign with UCLA next month. Roques led Canyon Springs to the Southern Section Division IV championship last month.
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Times' Basketball Polls
The Times' top 20 high school basketball polls, with teams from the City and Southern Sections.
School Sect. Div. Rec. LW 1. Mater Dei SS I-A 21-1 1 2. Dominguez SS II-A 16-1 2 3. Inglewood SS II-A 13-3 3 4. Tustin SS II-A 16-1 4 5. Cres. Valley SS II-AA 17-1 6 6. Ayala SS I-AA 17-1 7 7. Crenshaw City 4-A 13-3 11 8. Westchester City 4-A 15-4 5 9. Fairfax City 4-A 12-4 14 10. Harvard-Westlake SS III-A 16-1 13 11. Artesia SS III-AA 14-3 12 12. JW North SS II-AA 12-3 15 13. Rowland SS I-A 15-2 17 14. Washington City 4-A 13-3 9 15. LB Poly SS I-AA 11-6 19 16. Westlake City I-AA 13-1 20 17. Fontana SS I-AA 13-3 8 18. Sonora SS III-AA 16-2 NR 19. Hamilton City 4-A 11-3 NR 20. Nogales SS I-A 15-3 10
School Sect. Div. Rec. LW 1. Mater Dei SS I-A 12-0 1 2. Woodbridge SS II-AA 17-1 2 3. Brea-Olinda SS II-A 15-1 3 4. Newbury Park SS III-AA 16-1 4 5. Crenshaw City 4-A 14-0 5 6. Alemany SS II-AA 10-3 6 7. Buena SS I-A 8-2 7 8. JW North SS II-AA 15-0 8 9. Peninsula SS I-AA 11-4 10 10. LB Poly SS I-AA 12-3 13 11. Diamond Bar SS I-AA 15-2 14 12. Marina SS II-AA 14-3 9 13. Fountain Valley SS I-A 14-5 NR 14. B. Montgomery SS III-AA 12-3 16 15. Newport Harbor SS III-AA 13-2 15 16. Lynwood SS I-AA 9-5 17 17. Rialto SS I-A 14-1 NR 18. Glendora SS I-A 15-3 12 19. St. Bernard SS IV-AA 14-4 20 20. Gahr SS II-AA 10-6 11