Yorktown students ponder what can sometimes be an athletes toughest question

May 13

All articles are written by YJDP Student Sports Writers and edited by mentors from The Washington Post prior to publishing.

On an average day at Yorktown High School in Arlington, it would not be too hard to confuse juniors John Cohen and Edmund Pendleton if you passed them in the hallway. Both are tall, lanky, talented, and take many of the same challenging courses. Yet many of their peers and people who are fans of Yorktown’s varsity basketball team don’t know that Cohen and Pendleton share a talent and love for another sport as well – soccer.

When questioned which sport they preferred to play, they both handily agreed that they enjoy basketball more, with all due respect to soccer. However, Cohen, a diehard fan of British soccer club Arsenal, stated he preferred watching soccer to watching basketball, while Pendleton, despite his clear preference towards basketball, appreciates the variety that playing both brings.

“Having a mix of the two helps [in that you] don’t get as worn out with one,” Pendleton noted.

Yet when describing which skills trickle over between the two sports, Cohen and Pendleton think differently.

”I think that leadership definitely translates through both sports and I think that just working as a team is always important in team sports,” Cohen said.

While Cohen cited the mental aspects of the sports, Pendleton focused more on the physical ones.

“There are definitely aspects in soccer that help me with basketball and basketball aspects that help me with soccer,” Pendleton described. “In basketball, you work on seeing the floor and the whole court, but in soccer you have to be able to see the whole field.”

He also stated that the footwork and endurance running of soccer help him be a better basketball player as well.

It is no lie that both of these juniors contributed heavily for the Patriots varsity basketball team this season. For example, in a key win over rival Washington-Lee at home, Pendleton chipped in with clutch free throw shooting down the stretch while Cohen made a nifty no-look behind-the-back pass in the second half.

As for the Yorktown varsity and junior varsity (JV) soccer teams, Pendleton and Cohen have approached them differently so far in their high school careers. Up until recently, Pendleton had been playing travel soccer for Division 1 NCSL Annandale United FC, who made two ventures to the finals of the coveted State Cup while Pendleton was on the squad. However, Pendleton has yet to even try out for his school’s soccer team despite attending Yorktown all three years and being clearly at the level of skill needed to play for the Patriots. This is firstly because the time constraints have been enormous between balancing basketball and soccer. Moreover, Pendleton indicated that he preferred his club team on which he had been playing for many years to the Yorktown program.

On the other hand, Cohen played JV on the Patriots soccer team during both freshmen and sophomore years, but declined to try out for a spot on the varsity squad this year (Yorktown does not permit juniors to play on JV teams).

“Right now I am very much interested in basketball and I feel as though I have a better relationship with the basketball team than the soccer team,” Cohen relayed. “I didn’t feel too much regret spending more time with the basketball team than playing soccer. Also, because the soccer team is so good this year, I doubt I would get a lot of playing time so I would rather just work on playing basketball.”

As for his travel soccer exploits, Cohen has been a driving force for Arlington Strikers White, who play in in NCSL Division II, for many years. However, much like Pendleton, this will be Cohen’s final season of travel soccer, as he has chosen to give it up to focus on basketball. Cohen noted he will be giving up travel soccer due to its immense time commitment, and even mentioned he would have liked to quit playing travel as early as last spring.

Regardless of both Cohen and Pendleton quitting travel soccer at roughly the same time for the same reason, both have indicated that they are interested in trying out for Yorktown’s varsity soccer team next season in hopes of having fun playing in their last season as seniors with their friends and classmates.

“I have been thinking about maybe next year trying out for the high school [soccer team]- if I have the time next year,” Pendleton mentioned.

In Pendleton’s case, suiting up for the Patriots in both basketball and soccer will be a fresh experience. For Cohen, finally getting to play on the varsity squad with friends like midfielder Jeremy Frenzel and possibly Pendleton as well will be the culmination of an era that began for him as a freshmen on the JV team.

Whether either or both of them end up trying out for the soccer team next season remains to be seen, but one can guarantee they will both be key cogs in the basketball squad this upcoming winter. Alongside friends like David Tebor and James Carroll, two other rising seniors whom Pendleton and Cohen have known since middle school, they will look to lead the Patriots to victory on the court (and possibly on the pitch as well). Without a doubt, Cohen and Pendleton have shown immense talent and love for ‘the beautiful game’, but in the end they both agree that basketball trumps soccer.

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