Day had not yet broken Monday morning when Nick Rose entered his family's home, signaling the end of a long road trip with Chaney Enterprises of Waldorf. The American Legion baseball team had traveled to Ohio to Michigan and back in a four-day span. Rose had pitched -- and won -- two of the team's five games, including throwing a no-hitter.
But although it was after 4 a.m. and his bed was calling him, so too was duty. Rose, a rising senior at Westlake High School, set his alarm clock so he could get up in time for an 8 a.m. run with his football teammates.
"I had missed a couple of days because of the Michigan trip, so I just felt like I had to be there Monday morning," said Rose, who is starting quarterback for the three-time Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champions. "As a senior, I have to have leadership. I have to act responsibly."
Rose is one of just a handful of baseball players who cross over to football in the fall, adding a summer weightlifting regimen to a very demanding American Legion schedule that includes long practices and tough competition in two or three games a week. Plus weekends.
Westlake players, for example, do conditioning drills and lift weight four days a week for three hours. Though not mandatory, attendance at the summer training sessions is strongly encouraged.
"I take a vacation every summer, so I certainly don't have a problem with the kids doing that as well, as long as they communicate with me and let me know they aren't going to be around," Westlake football coach Dominic Zaccarelli said. "But if they are in Charles County, they are expected to lift and maintain their conditioning program with the rest of the team. And the kids have done that. They know what is expected of them, what it takes to maintain a winning program."
Zaccarelli and Chaney coach Ed Glaeser, who also serves as Thomas Stone's head baseball coach, are both known to be demanding of their athletes in their respective sports. Both are proven winners. And both, Rose said, have taught him a tremendous amount about dedication.
"I love playing for Coach Zaccarelli and Coach Glaeser because they are so demanding," Rose said. "I know it will help me in the long run."
For Glaeser, dedication means, for example, that players who graduated from high school last month honor their commitment to the baseball team rather than going to the beach for Senior Week. While other area teams struggle at the beginning of the season with many absent players, not one of Chaney's seniors this season chose the beach over baseball. That's the type of commitment Glaeser's players know is expected of them.
The same goes for Zaccarelli during football season, and for other area coaches as well, all of whom know the key to success is in good, hard practices. High school sports are no longer season-long commitments, but year-round ones.
"[Calvert football coach Jerry] Franks said at the end-of-the-year banquet that he really wanted us to lift together, work together as a team over the summer so that would carry with us into the fall," said rising senior Brendan Galligan, the football team's starting tight end/linebacker and a catcher for the Calvert County American Legion team. "It's about building camaraderie. And it's hard to be up there lifting in the morning and then go to baseball, but I've made a commitment to do both."
Zaccarelli can relate. After all, he himself played football, baseball and wrestled at La Plata High when he was a student there. And as much as he would like to have Rose on a full-time basis, he recognizes the advantages of having well-rounded athletes.
"If you're asking me as a football coach, I'd be crazy not to tell you that I'd want him in the weight room with me all the time," Zaccarelli said. "But if he has the chance to do something as a baseball player, I'm not going to be the one who held him back. There is a fine balance between wanting kids to be active and wanting them to be with you. But maybe that's why we get 150 or more kids out for our program -- they know I'm going to support them in whatever they do, so long as they communicate with me."
But that's when Legion games are competing against football practices. Rose said he finds it impossible to choose between the two sports now, but if baseball and football games were to overlap, there would be real conflict.
"Which one would I choose?" Rose asked, laughing. "You're kidding me, right? There's no way I'm answering that question. I'm not even sure that I could. But trust me, for my sake, it's better to say nothing at all."
CAPTION: As a summer league pitcher for Chaney Enterprises, Nick Rose recently played five baseball games during a four-day trip to Ohio and Michigan. As Westlake's quarterback, he attends offseason conditioning and weight-training sessions for the football team.
CAPTION: Summer's no vacation for two-sport athlete Nick Rose. Story, Page 12.