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1 kid, 3 sports: Byers driven by competition

It’s difficult enough to excel in one sport, let alone three.

But that’s what Joey Byers has been doing at Streator High School.

The Ransom resident plays soccer, baseball and basketball at the high school in an effort to compete at every level. “I think it’s just about being competitive,” Byers said of his drive. “Just trying to win and wanting to win really bad.”

And winning is something he’s been doing very well.

Basketball coach Beau Doty estimates Byers is the school's most winningest player since the 60s.

The coach said he takes on any role he’s given with dedication and few players compete as hard as he does.

“Joey’s been unbelievable for our program,” Doty said. “He’s a four-year varsity player. He’s a great kid and a rarity in our school right now in that he’s a three-sport athlete.”

But he didn’t start out that way.

Byers estimates he started playing sports in the first grade after encouragement from his parents, Chris and Amy, but he really came into his own around age 12.

Basketball and soccer were easier to learn but baseball, his personal favorite, took some additional time.

Participating in three sports at the same time takes a large amount of planning for the student who needs to fit in time for classes, practice, workouts, homework, hanging out with friends and squeezing some sleep in as well.

“I think (his parents) were really happy when he started driving,” Doty joked.

Chris said it has been a struggle to balance schedules, but it works for the most part.

We’re a tight-knit crew at this house and he’s got a good support system,” Chris said.

And that mentality expands to his siblings as well. Byers has one older brother and a younger brother and sister. The younger siblings are just getting into sports and Joey is taking the time to teach and train them as they grow up.

His desire to do the best he can extends to the classroom as well, due in part to encouragement from his parents.

“It’s always a challenge,” Amy said regarding Joey’s classwork. “We have to stay on top of him, but he does.”

Byers adding that his courses take priority over everything else and while it may lead to some long nights, he’s always sure to get the work done.

Especially for Dan Pouk’s accounting class, which is his personal favorite.

His next stop is Heartland Community College and he is thinking of taking classes in both business and psychology. Whatever his major may end up being, he knows baseball will be on the horizon as well.

Balancing such a frantic schedule can be a chore, but Byers said it’s necessary to fuel his passion.

“I just want to win in everything I do,” Byers said. “I want to be the best.”

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