CLAYTON — Justin Watkins, a three sport athlete who graduated from Northmont High School in 2006, went on to play college football at the University of Dayton.
While at Northmont he played baseball, basketball and football, excelling at all three sports.
Watkins was asked why he didn’t choose to focus on just one sport.
“I thought about giving up football when I was in eighth grade, but I loved each sport so much that I just couldn’t picture not playing once that sport’s season rolled around,” Watkins said. “So, the love of each sport kept me engaged in all three.”
When asked which sport he loved playing the most, Watkins favored baseball.
“Baseball was my favorite to play and watch, even though it’s slower paced,” he said. “I grew to love football. It’s something I got behind and a sport that I grew into. Basketball was a sport that I became much better at in high school. Basketball practice was always more fun so I could never pick one sport over the other.”
Even though he enjoyed playing baseball the most, Watkins felt he excelled the most on the gridiron.
“I felt that I was best at football. That’s why I chose to pursue it in college,” Watkins said. “I was good at baseball and became more successful at it in high school, but football was my best sport.”
Watkins feels that playing three sports is better than focusing on just one. It certainly didn’t have a negative effect on his collegiate football career, as he went to become the all-time leader in receiving yardage (2,345) at the University of Dayton.
“It’s tougher to play three sports now if you are trying to get a scholarship in one sport, but I think each sport translates into the other as far as helping with athletic ability,” Watkins noted. “I encourage high school athletes to try to play as many sports as possible because I think colleges see it as a positive. They might recruit you for football, but if you are also good at another sport a college might see that you could also help them by playing on their baseball team as well, for example. Being a three sport athlete is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. The experiences I had in each sport were well worth the effort.”
Watkins went on to become an assistant football coach at Cincinnati Anderson High School and is also now an assistant basketball coach for the Redskins.
Northmont athlete Taishi Sakai, a senior who plays tennis, chose to focus on this sport exclusively.
Q: Why did you choose tennis?
A: First, I saw it on TV, and it looked really cool. You know Roger Federer? He’s the best player. I saw him playing and I thought it was really cool. So that’s why I started playing.
Q: Has this been the only sport you’ve played throughout high school?
A: Yeah, all four years.
Q: Has focusing solely on this sport helped your chances of earning a scholarship in it?
A: Maybe. I’m going back to Japan for college, so I don’t know about scholarships. I think I’m going to be playing tennis in Japan, but I don’t know about a scholarship.
Q: Has playing tennis improved your odds of playing tennis in Japan?
A: Yeah definitely. Here, we have eight courts, in Japan, we only have three or two. So yeah, definitely.
Q: What’s the reason you plan to go back?
A: I just want to go to college there. I’m interested in a Japanese college.
Q: Is tennis the only sport you’ve played in your life?