Tyreik Leach: Multiple sports, one season


Photo provided by Robert Hill Photography

Bo Dalrymple, Managing Editor

For many seniors, the second half of the school year can be a much needed time to unwind and decompress after four long years. After putting the daunting college, military or work preparation process behind them, some seniors decide to live out the rest of their high school careers in relaxation as they begin their next stage of life.

Others devote their final year to leading clubs or sports teams and making the most of their last few months at RJR. For athletes that light up stadiums in black and gold like Tyreik Leach, the remainder of the year serves as an opportunity to grow not only in his skills but also recruitment potential for playing at the college level. 

As a player of basketball since the age of three and football player since the age of five, the two sports have been instrumental in shaping Leach’s life. For this reason, he has devoted much of his high school tenure to being recruited by colleges and universities in order to keep playing both of his beloved sports. 

The two-way guard excels on both the offensive and defensive side of basketball and serves as a running back, wide receiver and safety for the football team. His football coaches at RJR greatly appreciate the contributions and his dependability.

Tyreik plays a vital role for our team,” Varsity football offensive coordinator Greg King said. “He is a special player because of his physical and mental ability to learn a new offense as well perform physically at a high level.”

His tremendous potential has been recognized by coaches at Ferrum College and Averett University, two Division III schools in Virginia that have offered him the chance to play on their football and basketball teams.

“It feels good for my athletic abilities to be recognized because I can continue to play sports [in college],” Leach said.    

Traditionally Leach would be found storming across the football field on Friday nights in the fall but this is no ordinary year. Instead, Leach has faced postponed seasons like all students attending WS/FCS schools and has had to find other opportunities to continue improving his game.

However, life has not slowed for Leach who has had an active offseason gearing up for the basketball and football seasons beginning December 7 and February 8, respectively. Sports not currently in season are allowed to conduct limited workouts for certain days of the week as a way to prepare for the season.     

For Leach, his offseasons usually independent of one another have coincided into an extended period of workouts during the fall and into the winter.

“I have been going to football workouts on Mondays and Wednesdays, then on Tuesdays and Thursdays I go to basketball workouts,” Leach said.

In addition to the intensive football and basketball workouts that began in late August, Leach has also occupied his time playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball for Blue Chip and 7on7 football scrimmages at BB&T fields. 

Despite his efforts to prepare for two unanticipated sports seasons, there is a very strong chance of overlap with the two of them. Because of the reformed sports schedule made by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA), multi-sport athletes are put in a tough position.

Photo provided by Robert Hill Photography

While the basketball regular season ends before week one of football, the NCHSAA basketball playoffs will spill into late February and early March when football is in full swing. Due to the stacked roster the Varsity basketball team will field this year—full of many returners with experience making it to the semifinals in 2019 and second round in 2020— the RJR basketball season could very well continue past the first game of the football season.

Specifically, there is a scenario in which the basketball team could advance from the first and second round games played February 23 and 25, to then make it to the third round February 27. Although many parents and Rowdies alike would love to see this happen, this would pull many starters on the Varsity football team from their first competition on February 26.

Leach and many of his teammates—stars on both the basketball and football teams—have prepared for this outcome and intend to stick with the basketball team even if their season extends to the beginning of competition for the football team. 

The football team is preparing for this reality as well and is developing the remainder of the team who will be able to attend practice starting February 8.

We are working to improve the physical and mental skill level of all our players,” King said. “We want to play as many student-athletes as possible in the upcoming season.”

While it may not be the outcome hoped for, we can all at least be grateful that RJR has such dedicated athletes across countless sports teams and for the hard work coaches and student-athletes are putting in to make the most of this year.