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Benefits of being involved

Created: 05/19/2013 11:15 PM KSTP.com

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Thor Knutson has played hockey his whole life. He picked up football and track along the way, and is a three-sport athlete at Byron High School. As busy as the senior is, he wouldn't trade his athletic life for anything.

"As early as I could remember my dad put me on skates, right away, as soon as I could probably walk," Knutson said. "I wouldn't want to regret not going out for other sports. Different sports give you different aspects. Track gives you more of a social aspect and hockey and football give you more of a team aspect."

Steve and Jean Knutson have four kids, but they always wanted Thor and his siblings involved. To them, athletics was more than just playing games.

“Figuring out how to work with all different types of people, whether that's a positive or a negative interaction, that's life, " said Jean Knutson. "You have to learn how to deal with all sorts of different people and you take what you can from it to make yourself a better person and I definitely have seen that with Thor.”

It was part of the reason the Knutson's moved to the town of Byron years ago. They loved the smaller community and the opportunities it presented their kids.

“We didn't want them to do just one thing. Living in a smaller town there's so many opportunities to try different things and not just have to do one thing,” said Thor's mom.

Three-sport athletics are common in small schools, simple as that. Some of the best athletes in the area play multiple sports because of the schools they go to, such as Mike Goergen, a standout at Southland.

"I think mostly in smaller schools a lot of people play three sports. I think everyone's close so even if they're not the best they come out just to be with their friends, hang out, have fun and play a sport,” said Goergen.

Mike is playing football in college, and when he was recruited he said coach's liked that he was versatile.

"It keeps you more active they say, because you don't just go home and sit on the couch. They want you to be more involved with other sports,” the senior said.

Jack Nelson, a soon-to-be college football player too, agrees.

"I think it gives you a lot more choices when it comes to recruiting, a lot more coaches see you if you play three sports, a lot of coach's like that if you play three sports, it shows how athletic you can be,” Nelson explained.

The drop off of three sport athletes happens in the bigger schools. More numbers means more kids compete for a varsity spot. It's not that kids don't want to play multiple sports. They just see an advantage with specialization.

"I gave football and basketball a try, and I played soccer for a while but eventually I just had to focus on baseball," said Mayo baseball player Christian Rosenow.

So are three-sport athletes soon to be extinct? Depends on where you are. They are still very much a staple in smaller schools. And for Thor Knutson, that is just fine.

“At times, sometimes the season's get long, but I like staying busy,” Knutson said.