Justin Moore has worn quite a few jerseys during his time at Vandegrift.
He began his senior year starting at quarterback for the Vipers’ football team that made it to the second round of the playoffs last season and joined the Vandegrift basketball team before district play started.
Moore wrapped up the year as the starting third baseman and batted third as the Vipers’ baseball team made the playoffs for the second year in a row and the second time in school history.
“The skills that you acquire in one sport, whether you think it does or not, will help you in other sports, especially from the competitive aspect,” he said. “I played a competitive game at least once a week this year and keeping that competitive edge and drive for multiple seasons is helpful for the mental side of the game.”
Playing more than one sport has multiple benefits and, for Moore, helped him land a dream spot at Stanford, where he will play baseball next season.
“You start playing one sport all the time, burnout factor can happen,” Vandegrift baseball coach Allen McGee said. “And one sport brings its next strength to the next one. Football brings the physical mentality, in basketball, you’re going to work on quickness and teamwork and spreading it around. And baseball is just the mental side of things. They all just go together.”
In a world where many single-sport athletes stand out, the trend is nothing new in Leander ISD. Every high school features athletes — both boys and girls — that stand out on more than one field or court.
A 2017 report from The American Journal of Sports Medicine studied the risk of lower extremity injuries (LEI) more than 1,500 high school athletes in Wisconsin over 2,843 athletic seasons during a single school year.
“Athletes with moderate or high sport specialization were more likely to sustain an LEI than athletes with low specialization,” the report’s conclusion said.
And playing multiple sports doesn’t turn away colleges, either. More than 100 graduating students from LISD this year will play sports in college, about four percent of the expected graduating class.
A study released by the National Federation of State High School Associations shows that 80 percent of athletes with Division I football scholarships in 2016 participated in multiple sports in high school. And 84 percent of recruits that went to the top four classes between 2012 and 2016 were multi-sport athletes.
Moore’s recruiting process started a little later than most. Stanford didn’t start talking to him until the December of his senior year and his acceptance letter came in early April. He can remember attending Cardinal sporting events as a young kind as dad went to Stanford and his family moved from the Bay Area to Texas before starting the eighth grade.
“My coaches played a huge role,” Moore said. “Coach McGee put in a lot of work. But also my summer coaches, Luke Smith and James Ellison, they worked through their contacts and have been good role models and mentors. All the work has accumulated to that point and it’s awesome to see it pay off.”
He spent three years on the varsity baseball team, two on the football team three playing basketball.
Moore put up big passing numbers on the football field last year, throwing for 2,546 yards with 25 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The Vipers used a fourth-quarter rally to come from behind and beat San Antonio Johnson in the first round of the playoffs.
He said that basketball is a fun relaxed sport and it’s a good time to go out and play with his friends, whether it be a pickup game or during practice.
But Moore eventually came to the conclusion that baseball is his favorite of the three. The year before he joined the varsity squad, the Vipers won a single district game. McGee took over the program in 2016 and the team has been close to or in the playoffs ever since
“You’ve got to have good players and Justin has had a huge impact,” McGee said. “But he’ll be the first to tell you that it’s not just him. There are multiple guys that have helped with the contribution, but he’s in the middle of it.”
No matter what jersey he’s wearing, Moore’s competitive nature shines through.
“It’s a drive to be the best you can be,” Moore said. “I feel like I have a lot of potential. We have a saying in the weight room that average is the enemy. You don’t want to be average. Plus, playing sports is fun so to get up and go to practice with your buddies first thing in the morning, that’s always good.”