Free time is a luxury for Brian Katz, Katie Leone, Jeremy DeLorenzo and Mike Bestic.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- Illness, speeding tickets and traffic accidents were some of the obstacles that four Boardman High athletes found when they chose to juggle sports with theatrical commitments.
But Brian Katz, Katie Leone, Jeremy DeLorenzo and Mike Bestic say they wouldn't have it any other way.
Last fall, Katz and Leone, who are swimmers, earned roles in the musical "Hello, Dolly."
Free time became a rare luxury.
"We started our days at 6 in the morning with lifting," Katz said. "And then we would go to school. Right after school, we would go to Youngstown State for swim practice.
"We would leave at about 3:20 p.m. and get back about 7. Play practice would begin at 7 and end at between 9-10:30.
"Conserving time is a must -- you learn to do three things at once," Katz said. "The fact that we love both swimming and doing the play was all the motivation that we needed."
Although bus rides were available, Leone said she and Katz would drive "because it was a lot easier to make it to play practice on time. Coach [Terry O'Halloran] was very understanding. You learn to eat and drive."
Leone agreed the demanding schedule took its toll.
"It's hard," the Boardman junior said. "You have to be really focused and love what you're doing.
"Homework was the hardest thing because you come home [after 9 o'clock] and you're dead tired, but you have to do all your homework," Leone said. "And you started at 5:30 that morning."
Katz said, "It's a matter of dedication and a matter of how much your body can put up with it. Katie got mono from doing so much."
Leone said, "I overdid it a little bit."
Leone said time in the water didn't help her vocals.
"It was so hard to sing on some nights," Leone said. "Sometimes it was hard to hit the notes -- I'd struggle and nothing would come out, but it all came together in the end."
Katz said he prefers acrobatics to singing.
"Coming from 31/2 hours of practice and lifting in the morning, it was [extra] difficult to do jumps and flips."
Katz said he and Leone have done swimming and plays since they were freshmen.
"It tests our commitment, but every year we look back and say how glad we are that we did it," Katz said.
Leone said she couldn't pick either activity to give up.
"I've swam since I was 6 and I wanted to be on stage," Leone said.
Although she won't forget her speeding ticket, Leone has another reminder of her wild schedule.
"I paid the fine and got grounded for about a month."
Jeannine Hodge, Boardman's theater director, said her strategy is to not "look at what students are involved in. Instead, we ask for conflicts then try to rework our schedules."
Both in play
During the winter, DeLorenzo had a role and Bestic was the stage manager for the play "Our Town."
"My schedule was probably more of a pain for my parents because they own two stores and had to find time to drive me around everywhere," said DeLorenzo, a sophomore who just turned 16. "It was definitely worth it.
"I kind of like everything -- I'm having a lot of fun with [acting] and I'm OK at it," said DeLorenzo, who also has a role in Easy Street Productions' upcoming "The Will Rogers Follies."
Bestic, who runs the 100- and 200-meter dashes and competes in long jump, said his track conditioning would last until 5:30 p.m.
"Then I'd shower and eat and go to play practice," Bestic said.
Bestic said transportation became a problem when he wrecked his car.
"It was kind of hard sometimes, but it was still worth it," Bestic said.
Basketball players Chris Wire and Carl Centofanti also had roles in "Our Town."
Others in the play whose sports were not in season included soccer players Jaclyn Hodos and Josh Murphy.