Sault Ste. Marie’s basketball game Friday was over — so by 9:30 Michael James jumped into his parents’ car and they were off for another trip across the bridge.
The family did not arrive in Bay City until 1:15 a.m., after stops along the way.
“I had to get food, er, not food, but drinks,” he said. “I had to suck on ice cubes the entire way down so I didn’t drink too much.”
While James sucked on ice, his parents ate McDonald’s, which doesn’t exactly seem fair.
But James is a wrestler, and he also is the basketball team’s point guard. In the fall, he played quarterback, defensive back and punted for the football team, and this month he signed with Michigan Tech as a punter.
Not to mention baseball, where he is a catcher and third baseman, but, seriously, do they even have a baseball season in the U.P.?
James’ busiest time is the winter, when he wrestles and plays basketball. He attends each team’s practice every day, leaving him exhausted.
“Really, after the first year you learn to expect certain things, and it’s just a grind,” he said. “You get tired real easily, but you also get in some of the best shape of your life. I’m proud to be able to say I did all of them.”
The unsung heroes in this story are wrestling coach Delbert Craven and basketball coach Bill Schomberg, who have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure James can play both sports.
“I respect them with just about everything I have, because without them I couldn’t do it all,” James said. “They both cared about me a lot, and they knew I wanted to do both. They both had to get together in front of the athletic director and figure out practice times so I could make both practices every day.”
James wrestles in the 152-pound division and understands he would be more effective in other sports if he added weight.
“Oh, goodness, everybody says I’d be better if I was bigger, but I didn’t let that stop me,” he said. “I’m not the biggest chunk of meat out there. Having more size would help in anything. In football, being 5-feet-10, 150 pounds, you’re not exactly the biggest powerhouse on the field.”
It was good enough to help the Blue Devils make the second round of the football state playoffs, and last Saturday James won two matches to earn his first spot in the Division 2 individual state finals next week at the Palace.
Although he has found doing two winter sports challenging, it will enable James to finish with a school-record 13 varsity letters.
“I wanted to be able to say I did both, because not too many people can say they did both,” he said. “I like being able to say I did something no one else did.”
While he is busy with four sports, James has found time to keep up his school work, earning a 3.8 grade-point average and scoring 28 on the ACT, which makes his goal to major in mechanical and electrical engineering realistic.
“I like problem-solving,” he said. “I like figuring out puzzles. I like being able to make ideas and explore ideas that can change different parts of life.”
Like how to play basketball and wrestle in the same season.