Three sports in one season. Seem impossible? Keaton Helm proved it otherwise.
Helm played varsity soccer since his freshman year, but thought he’d spice up his senior season at Sherrard High School (Ill.) and add a few more sports to the mix. The football and cross country coaches happened to coach Helm in track, and after a spring and summer of nudging and consideration, Helm made way for two more sports in the fall.
Helm spent the majority of his time with soccer, but would bounce from practice to practice, and often have a soccer game Thursday evening, kick for the football team Friday night, and run a cross country meet Saturday morning. It was a grueling schedule, but Helm kept up, finding a few quiet moments of prayer in his car before school began, mentally telling himself, “You can do this. It’s going to be a long couple of hours and days, but when you get through it on the other side you’ll know why.”
The final weeks of the fall, though, kept his tank close to empty.
Helm tested the limits of his own endurance to step in sync with three different teams, with three different coaching staffs and teammates, with different personalities. And it stretched him beyond his comfort zone.
But through it all, he just kept His gaze on God, and was grateful to his coaches for the flexibility of accommodating his schedule, especially his soccer coach.
“I asked him, ‘Hey, it’s kind of crazy, but what do you think about me doing three sports in one season?’” Helm said. “I’m sure he probably had a mini heart attack when I said it, but he was totally understanding. And so were the other coaches.”
The challenge pushed him to capacity physically, emotionally, mentally, and it bolstered spiritual strength and harvested fruit from rich relationships, both with teammates and through Sherrard’s FCA Huddle.
“Oftentimes, we get caught up in competition and don’t think about how great of an opportunity we have as athletes” he added. “We have teammates we’re with every day that we can be spreading God’s love to them, planting a seed, talking to them.
“It’s really important to have that opportunity to gather together as athletes, and more importantly, as Christians.”
Helm earned All-Conference honors with his tenth-place finish at the cross country conference meet, and made All-Area in soccer.
It was an experience he wouldn’t trade for the world, and Helm encourages others to step across the threshold of an open door, no matter how daunting it may seem.
“If God presents you with an opportunity to use your gifts for something more than what you’re already doing, even if it’s outside your comfort zone, take it,” he said. “Don’t pass it up.”
The strain of three sports challenged Helm to keep academics on the forefront, spending a lot of time studying. There were moments of doubt, when Helm wondered if he had bitten off more than he could chew. In those moments, he sought counsel with his parents and dug into his faith, giving the grind to God.
“I’d say I was still really tired and stressed out,” he said. “But I’m still standing here so I guess I came out on the other side.”