Sports

Nothing to 'boo' about Picha

Another top Metro League player spent the Thursday after Christmas impressing collegiate and pro scouts with his basketball skills at Delaware’s Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament.

Teddy Picha of Bainbridge High School spent the same day on the slopes at Crystal Mountain, impressing his friends with his snowboarding skills.

You can be sure the other Metro star thinks about basketball and drains dozens of shots every day of the year.

You can be sure that Picha thinks about basketball and drains dozens of shots – well, for a couple of months.

The two young men illustrate two approaches to high school athletics.

For some, high school is a way station to a hoped-for lucrative professional career.

For Picha, high school is a chance to play a variety of sports and learn time management.

“It’s tough going for three straight seasons,” Picha says. “You only have one day off after football before basketball starts. It takes a lot of focus. If I couldn’t keep my academics strong (he maintains a 3.65 GPA) I wouldn’t play all three.”

With his trademark bushy red hair, Picha could almost step out of the pages of a decades-old high school yearbook – complete with his work ethic and three-sport versatility in football, basketball and baseball.

An all-league football cornerback, he’s the leading scorer on the Spartan basketball team.

This spring, however, baseball may take a backseat to the other sports in his triumvirate as Picha – a senior – is thinking of giving lacrosse a go before he graduates.

“It would be a new challenge and I like pushing myself,” he says. “Especially since some people have told me that I couldn’t make the starting line.

“But it’ll be tough to give up baseball. I’ve been playing it my whole life.”

Generationally, this versatility runs in both directions, as his father Doug played football, basketball and tennis for Puyallup High School.

His mother Cassie, in those pre-Title IX days, was captain of the cheerleading team and emphasizes how hard she had to work.

His younger brother Joe, a Spartan sophomore, is beginning his second season of playing three sports – football, varsity basketball and lacrosse.

Picha believes that his sister Allie, now an eighth grader, will make her mark on Spartan soccer and basketball teams next year.

She’s also played baseball in the past, but had to give it up because of the time demands of playing select in the other two sports.

“I don’t know what she would do if she couldn’t get out and knock heads around,” he observes. “But she has motivation and a great work ethic.”

His youngest brother Sam, a sixth grader at Sakai, is one of the varsity basketball team’s two waterboys. He also plays baseball, basketball and lacrosse. “But he has other talents,” Teddy says. “He’ll watch us play, sometimes shoot around, but he’s more into music.”

All in the family

Given his family’s athletic background – all his father’s brothers were athletes, and his grandfather played football at UPS – playing sports was a natural part of growing up.

“We had annual Thanksgiving basketball games where the whole family played,” Picha says. “So I got into sports as soon as I could.”

That meant T-ball, soccer – which he played until about 11 or 12 – and PeeWee basketball.

When he entered high school, he played freshman basketball and baseball, then advanced to varsity basketball and JV baseball as a sophomore.

He credits Jake Haley – “He’s one of my biggest inspirations as a coach,” Picha says – with introducing him to football, which he had never played on organized teams previously to turning out as a junior.

“The hardest part is that summer ends two weeks early when you begin two-a-days,” he explains. “I guess I watched too much, and it finally caught up with me. I had to go out and try it. Now I wish I’d done it sooner.”

He immediately became a starting wide receiver, bringing in plays from the sideline on alternate downs, and a part-time cornerback. In basketball that year, he was the team’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer. On the Spartan baseball team, he was a part-time starter as an outfielder.

On the whole, he’s enjoyed playing in the Metro League this year.

Though the narrow loss to O’Dea “was our most frustrating game of the year,” he adds that “people said that going into Metro, ‘You’re going to get worked.’ It was fun to prove them wrong.”

Basketball has presented some different forms of fun.

“We’re seeing athletes that we used to read about in the paper,” he says. “We’ve proven that we can play with most of them.

“And it’s also fun to see guys we played against in football and how they play basketball.”

With the holiday break providing him with a few days off from the constant practice-and- game grind of basketball, he’s started preparing collegiate apps. He’s interested in Boston College, Colorado College, Willamette, the University of San Diego and Santa Clara.

But there won’t be any more multi-sporting once he leaves Bainbridge behind.

“My focus going in is on academics. But if I do play, it’ll be either basketball or football,” he says, admitting to a slight inclination toward the latter. With a zero period devoted to weightlifting, he’d like to add another 10 pounds to the current 185 on his 6-3 frame.

“But it’s hard to do, because I burn up so many calories playing sports,” he says.

But even if football isn’t in his future, there’s sure to be something else.

Someone as versatile as Teddy Picha will always have options.

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