There’s certainly no shortage of standout athletes across Texas, considering the sheer number of massive schools that make up the landscape in the larger cities.
But away from the massive 6A and 5A campuses, into the rural parts of the state and further down the UIL classifications, there’s an elevated sense of appreciation for the multi-sport athlete. With double and barely triple-digit enrollment numbers at the 1A and 2A levels, those schools have to make their limited number of competitors go a little further than just one sport.
For Coolidge’s Delvin Smith and Frost’s Jae Moore, the life of a multi-sport athlete multiplied their opportunities to be winners. And they did that quite a bit.
Smith shined as a four-sport athlete at 88-student Coolidge, earning first-team Super Centex honors in six-man football and basketball, along with qualifying for the state track meet in the long jump. About a half-hour north, Moore helped guide 124-student Frost to district titles in volleyball, softball, girls basketball and girls cross country, and also qualified for regionals in track and tennis.
For their efforts, Smith and Moore are the 2016 Super Centex athletes of the year.
“You have to have a lot of ‘want-to’ to play everything year-round,” Moore said.
Smith values his Sundays. Especially in the fall.
It’s one of the few days of the week he’s not at practice or playing in a game. When Monday rolls around, he’s at school early for a morning run with the cross country team. Then it’s off to class, then football practice.
On Friday night, he’s helping Coolidge’s cause on the football field as running back and safety. The following morning, he’s in a Yellow Jackets uniform again, but this time in a cross country race.
“Sunday, I’m probably worn out,” Smith said. “It takes a lot. You’ve got to be dedicated to what you do, to be able to do all the things at the same time.”
If Smith experienced any kind of fatigue during the 2015-16 school year, he certainly didn’t show it.
As a football player, he piled up more than 1,000 total yards rushing and receiving, making 31 trips to the end zone in the process. Coolidge finished 8-2 with his efforts.
When winter rolled around, he was a key factor in the Yellow Jackets’ 30-5 season and run to the 1A state tournament, averaging 20 points and nine rebounds per game. Despite his team’s 1A status, they notched wins over 4A opponents in early-season non-district games.
He continued to excel in the spring as a triple jump and long jump participant on Coolidge’s track team, qualifying for state in the latter and placing sixth with a leap of 20 feet, 2 ¼ inches.
And yet, when it was all over, Smith didn’t feel the need to brag.
“I think he’s done an excellent job,” said Bobby Smith, Coolidge’s cross country and track coach and Delvin’s uncle. “A lot of young kids tend to look up to him. He’s humble, and I can appreciate that. I think it’s a very good characteristic. He’s just a pleasure to work with.”
With his name emblazoned on Super Centex teams and virtually every starting lineup Coolidge’s sports teams can produce, it was only fitting that Delvin filled one more role at his school before his departure — Valedictorian of his senior class.
At this point, he might as well be Mr. Coolidge High School.
“He’s a really committed young man, dedicated,” Bobby Smith said. “Well-respected young man. I enjoy working with him as much as he enjoyed the time we spent together. You can’t ask for much more. He’s a dynamic young man.”
A combination of athletic prowess and classroom excellence has Delvin headed to Texas A&M-Commerce next season, where he plans on competing in football and track. He got his first taste of 11-man football when he playing in Heart of Texas Victory Bowl on June 11, joining area athletes for a Central Texas all-star football game at Waco ISD Stadium.
If anything, competing in just two sports might be more of a relief, as he jumps into the grind of college coursework.
“It’ll be really good,” he said. “It’ll take a load off.”
Road to recovery
Injuries are devastating enough to the single-sport athletes. Imagine how it feels for someone who competes in six of them over the span of a school year.
That was a reality for Moore when she tore her ACL during a basketball game her junior year. It meant Frost would be without her during the remainder of the softball, track and tennis seasons, and her time she usually spent practicing and helping her Polar Bears win games would instead be dedicated to extensive rehab.
Frost’s small enrollment means its girls teams are made up mostly of the same small group of athletes, and Moore is one their most prominent. She’s a starter on the volleyball and basketball teams, the softball team’s ace pitcher, a discus thrower in track, a cross country runner and one half of a tennis doubles team.
So when she sustained the injury, the entire Frost athletic department felt the shockwave.
“It taught me a lot of patience because it went a lot longer than I thought,” Moore said. “It taught me a lot of things going through it, and I’m glad it happened, because it taught me, ‘don’t take games for granted,’ and to work harder, because not everybody can have the chance to play again, too.”
Moore began a rehabilitation process that her and her father, Frost girls athletic director Clark Moore, called “pre-hab.” During volleyball season, she was staying late at the gym to prepare her knee for basketball. During basketball season, she did the same for softball.
It culminated into her best athletic year, earning first-team Super Centex honors with a double-double average in basketball and second-team recognition in softball. She also qualified for regionals in track and tennis.
Most importantly, Frost’s girls were one of only three teams in the entire state to go undefeated in district play in volleyball, basketball and softball.
“You have to practice hard and work harder,” Moore said. “It’s kind of all you can think about at the time. I still remember always still having to prepare for the next sport, but you always have to stay focused because it’s playoff time.”
With so many sports on Moore’s calendar throughout the year, picking a favorite is no easy task. Oftentimes, it changes.
She might have said softball was her favorite when she missed it so much after sitting out her junior year. But when she’s racking up the kills in volleyball or draining shots on the basketball court, she could have a conflicting answer.
Or, like most all-around athletes will tell you, she’ll say she loves them all equally.
“It kind of changes as the seasons change,” she said. “I don’t want to say I get bored, but I can’t just have one favorite. I didn’t want it to end, but at the same time it was OK, because it gave me something new.”
Added her father: “She likes all of them, and that’s one of the perks of going to school at Frost. You have the opportunity to do everything. You don’t have to pick everything. We could, as a school, decide, ‘well, we want to be strong in basketball,’ at the cost of volleyball or maybe softball. But we haven’t done that.”
In the classroom, Moore graduated as Frost’s Salutatorian with a 99.1 grade average. She also participated in a wealth of community service projects and was a four-time district winner in UIL Computer Applications.
This fall, the schedule will be a little bit lighter. Sure, she’ll have a full load of freshman courses at Baylor, and they won’t be easy. But for the first time, she can just be a student without the chaotic sports schedule on top.
But she’s still an athlete at heart. So look out, Baylor intramurals.
“I can’t give it up completely,” she said.