So many sports, so little time

Published 5:15 pm Thursday, March 11, 2010

Every new season brings with it a new sport, and another opportunity for Todd Burkett to be caught with his tongue out. It’s something he can’t explain, but find any photograph of the Fort Dale senior in action in football, baseball or basketball, and Burkett’s tongue has been captured in print.

“Its something I have done as long since I started playing sports,” said Burkett, laughing.

Burkett has spent his high school career as a multi-sport athlete. As soon as Burkett hits his stride in one sport, he’s already preparing for the next.

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“I only had two days after football before basketball,” Burkett said. “I had only one day after basketball ended before we were already having a baseball game.”

Throughout his four years at FDA, he has played a key role in their football, basketball and baseball teams.

FDA basketball Coach William Johnson said Burkett was always ready to play.

“He’s a great competitor-probably about as good as it gets when it comes time to compete,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Burkett is a high-energy, driven athlete.

“He’s a great defensive player, always has his motor running,” Johnson said. “I just wish he could have played basketball for us every year.”

Burkett took a break from basketball after the ninth grade. After winning the state championship that year, he said he wanted to focus all his energies on baseball.

Burkett’s baseball coach, Josh Beverly, said he thinks the extra effort in baseball will pay off.

“He’s one of the better competitors I have ever coached,” Beverly said. “He’s got lots of natural athletic ability. I think he can play at the next level in baseball.”

Beverly said every coach at Fort Dale has to deal with sharing athletes, because they encourage players to participate in all three sports. Practicing during the off-season kept Burkett ready for the next sport.

“He made sure to hit and throw the baseball while he was still playing basketball,” Beverly said. “You have to do that so your arm will be in shape.”

Whether it was playing guard during basketball, wide receiver and running back during football or pitcher and shortstop during baseball, Burkett earned the respect and admiration of his coaches.

“He’s been an asset to us as a team player and as a person,” said football coach James “Speed” Sampley. “He will be extremely hard to replace.”

Sampley said Burkett has 17 career interceptions and earned the outstanding back trophy during his time on the gridiron.

“Athletic ability isn’t the only thing you are trying to replace,” Sampley said. “As a three-year starter, experience plays a big role.”

His football and basketball days may be behind him, but Burkett still has one final season of baseball before FDA will have to say their goodbyes to this dynamic athlete. Burkett said he has a good feeling about this year.

“We didn’t start off on the right track, but we are getting better,” Burkett said. “I think we will make it to the playoffs