Cooperation between coaches helps Foundation Academy student-athletes who play both football and basketball — sports that can overlap during the state playoffs.
WINTER GARDEN Adopted brothers Eddie Loos and Jaquane Patterson attended basketball practice for the Foundation Academy varsity team for the first time this week — nearly a month after the Lions began fall camp Oct. 26, and almost a week after their season-opening win over St. Cloud Nov. 17.
They weren’t alone, either. Six members of the school’s football team who also play hoops for the private school in south Winter Garden were busy putting together the program’s best season ever.
Foundation Academy finished the 2015 football campaign with a 7-5 record, having recorded its first district championship and first playoff victory before seeing its season draw to a close in a heartbreaking 12-7 loss to Victory Christian Nov. 20.
Now, after eating, sleeping and breathing football since August, those six Lions will jump headfirst into the 2015-16 basketball season with a game scheduled for Nov. 24 against Circle Christian, after the time of publication.
“The biggest thing we have is coaches who are experienced and who know how to handle it."
Athletic director, Foundation Academy
“It’s going to be a little rough (at first), but after a couple days of practice, I think I’ll be ready,” Patterson, a junior, said. “When we get home, our dad (Ed Loos — an assistant coach for the basketball team) always helps us run through the plays and helps us prepare for when we’re ready to come back to basketball.”
At a small school such as Foundation — the Lions compete in Class 2A (of eight) in football — crossover between sports is a way of life. So, when success comes for the football program, managing the overlap between the fall and winter sports can become a bit of a challenge.
“It is an exciting problem,” Athletic Director David Baginski said. “The biggest thing we have is coaches who are experienced and who know how to handle it. Our basketball coach (Al Peterson) does things like schedule district games late in the season. … He sets himself up for success. Our football coach (Brad Lord) understands the importance of kids that are crossover athletes.”
Peterson might appreciate that crossover and the scheduling conflicts it entails better than most. A multi-sport athlete as a youth, Peterson actually played football in college at nearby UCF. The coach, in his fourth year leading the basketball program for the Lions, said he has developed a strategy for handling the first few weeks each year when he is short-handed.
“You approach it very cautiously,” Peterson said. “You can’t really install too much — you’ve really got to simplify a lot of things with the guys you do have.
“Scheduling helps, too,” he said. “If you are able to schedule for that, it allows you to be able to miss those guys for a little bit and not have three and four and five games go by without those guys.”
Although football players are not allowed to practice with the basketball team until the season comes to close — with the exception of a group of players Lord released to Peterson who do not play much for the football team — Peterson still expects them to do some basic training during downtime, things such as dribbling and getting shots up, and Lord said his kids’ playing multiple sports is a strength for his program.
“I’m from the Northeast — I played hockey, baseball and football (growing up),” said Lord, who is also an assistant coach for the school’s baseball team. “We never had ACL injuries back then, because our bodies were fully fit and the kids weren’t getting a constant pounding. … (Kids who specialize in one sport are) working the same muscle all the time. … I love that my kids play separate sports.”
Lord’s and Peterson’s attitudes are especially important in making Baginski’s life a little easier. With Foundation’s enrollment size, having crossover is essential to fielding teams in some sports and staying competitive in others.
“If we take a hard line on things, we run in danger of getting kids not committing to certain sports,” Baginski said. “Then our teams won’t fill up. … So we have to be flexible, and it takes good communication between coaches and staffs.”
Of the football players returning to the hardwood, Konrie Brown is among the most important to the basketball team’s prospects this winter. Brown said that, although he has been focused on football and helping to lead the Lions to new heights in that arena, he also has made sure to check in with teammates on the basketball team to see how they’re doing and get any important information he might have missed.
And, although someone such as Eddie Loos actually prefers basketball, he said he was in no hurry to return to his favorite sport before Foundation’s final football game last Friday.
“When I’m on a team that is on a winning streak, I feel like that’s more important than transitioning to the beginning of another season,” Loos said.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].
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