In most ways, Utah teenager Gus Lavaka is a normal kid. The Kearns (Utah) High is an active senior, a talented athlete and diligent student who is likely to play on a collegiate football offensive line in fall 2012.
Still, it's what Lavaka is doing this winter that has turned plenty of people's heads: He's playing two varsity sports that do anything but overlap, and he's making a difference in both.
As first chronicled by the Salt Lake Tribune, Lavaka decided to add basketball to his existing three-varsity sport repertoire for his final winter season, throwing his 6-foot-4, 300-pound frame into the post for a Kearns basketball squad that had never had his services before. Yet Lavaka added basketball without cutting back on his existing winter sport of wrestling, instead continuing to aim for a state title in the 285-pound class, at which he was a Utah runner-up in 2010-11.
"I like to compete," Lavaka told the Tribune. "I wanted to play basketball."
While that might sound like a decided understatement, Lavaka's surprising insistence on adding yet another sport to his busy winter schedule was cautiously supported by his wrestling coach, Tyson Lindell. The only stipulation Lindell put on Lavaka's new sport was that if both activities had events scheduled for the same day, Lavaka would have to prioritize his previous wrestling obligations.
So far, so good, even though the two sports force Lavaka to practice twice each afternoon, first with the basketball team beginning at 2:10 p.m. and then with the wrestling squad beginning at 3 p.m.
And while the senior has found his dual sports to be an edge in some aspects -- "I surprise opponents a little bit when I'm on defense when I use a wrestling move," Lavaka told the Tribune -- he still relaxed by doing even more of what he does best: exercising … in the pool. Luckily for other Utah schools, the 300-pound dynamo has no plans of adding swimming as a third winter sport, for very practical reasons:
"I'm too slow," Lavaka said.