Seth Janney was on course to become one of the top athletes in South Western High history.
He was a standout defensive end in football and one of the top wrestlers in the state. He was an honor roll student. He grew up in the district with lifelong friends, teachers and coaches.
But he believed there was something better.
Like transferring to private Malvern Prep near Philadelphia, with its high-powered facilities and coaching. The move was not only to boost his athletic exposure but to prepare him better for college.
So he left South Western before his junior year, becoming another example of a growing trend in York County and across the nation: student-athletes bypassing their public school teams — sometimes leaving their districts altogether — for the hope of greater opportunities.
They are going to private schools, academies or playing for exclusive club teams, options rarely chosen even a decade ago. It’s led local coaches and administrators to wonder if it will become increasingly rare to see the area’s best athletes develop for their home schools.
Some in the YAIAA are worried about even more. That the trend of athletes drifting away will exacerbate the strain on finding and keeping quality coaches and officials. Meanwhile, increased specialization in sports continues to shrink teams.
State and national officials say they are concerned by the trend but aren’t sure of a remedy. They talk of trying to educate athletes and parents better.
“Will high school sports be around in 10 to 15 years?” asked Roger Czerwinski, the former PIAA title-winning baseball coach at West York. He’s now the athletic director at Manheim Township High in Lancaster County.
“My daughter is in the sixth grade and I’m praying to goodness that she has the same opportunities my son has to compete in high school sports.”