No one sails the Viking ship better than Sprinkles
Editor’s note: This is the second article in a four-part series honoring the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s male and female athletes of the year at South Tahoe and George Whittell high schools.
In this era of high school sports three-sport athletes – especially those that play the big three of football, basketball and baseball – are about as scarce as honest presidents.
Tim Sprinkles, a junior at South Tahoe High, is one of the exceptions to the growing trend. Not only does the articulate and perceptive 17-year-old play all three, but he’s exceptional in them all.
Sprinkles earned all-league status in basketball and baseball and the left-handed quarterback received honorable mention in football. Throw in a 3.6-plus grade-point average plus a zero tolerance of drugs and alcohol and you have the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s male athlete of the year at STHS.
“He’s your all-American boy. He’s just a great kid,” said Viking football coach Tim Jaureguito. “For one thing, he’s a talented athlete and, in addition, he does a good job in the classroom. It’s tough to do what he’s doing today with three sports. It’s a major accomplishment, not only that he’s playing three, but he’s playing the three major sports back to back to back.”
Viking basketball coach Tom Orlich, who has seen his share of athletes come through the doors during his 24 years at the school, marvels at more than Sprinkles the athlete.
“First of all, as a person they don’t come much better. He’s very humble for all of the talent he has. Every so often a kid comes around who will be skilled in all three sports. It takes a lot to throw and a hit a baseball, throw a football and shoot a basketball. It’s very rare, though, that someone can come around and be successful in all three sports,” Orlich said.
How is the versatile Sprinkles able to juggle all three sports and their demanding off-season training schedules and still maintain his athletic eligibility.
“Every day is jammed packed with one or two or three practices a day. I was always taught as a kid to enjoy your high school life and play as many sports as you can because you’ll never have that time again,” Sprinkles said. “I’m just going out and having fun every day. If I don’t have a practice on a day I kind of look at that I’m bored and I need something to do, so I ‘ll go throw the football with one of my friends or go shoot hoops or go umpire a baseball game at the Babe Ruth field.
“You could say sports is pretty much my whole life. Every day I need just a little bit of that.”
A typical spring day in the life of Sprinkles is class, football workouts from 2-5:3 p.m., basketball practice from 5:30-7:30 p.m., then home for a quick bite to eat and a day-wrapping two hours of practice.
“Then I do it all over again the next day, so there’s never a dull moment,” Sprinkles said. “I’m really trying to focus in now on school because it’s so important that you keep good grades, because colleges really like that, and you’ll better yourself. It’s good to take challenging classes that you have to work at, just like in sports you can’t just go out there nonchalant and say I’m going to be good in this. You have to work at it. You have to work before a big game and you have to work before a test.”
While Sprinkles can’t say no to sports, he has no trouble say the two-letter word when it comes to drugs and alcohol.
“Something that I take great pride i is that I can tell people that I’ve never been drunk or taken drugs. Some people will look at you in disbelief, but I know I haven’t , so that all that matters. Once you establish yourself, it kind of stops people from saying, ‘Why don’t you take a little of this a little of that,'” Sprinkles said.
Looking back on his junior season, Sprinkles continued to elevate his level of play in each sport. He rushed for 10 touchdowns and passed for 11 in his first season as the varsity quarterback, he unselfishly dropped down to the low post after Travis McCollum incurred a season-ending knee injury and he received second-team all-league status in baseball for his .420 average on a team that only won three games.
“You’ll find when you compete in one, sport you’ll lose a little something in another. In football, it’s an acceleration for 10 maybe 15 seconds going full speed, then in basketball you might need to go six minutes all out. I need to condition before I go back to basketball to get my running down, but then before football I need to lift more to get stronger. During baseball, it’s pretty much 90 feet to get to the base,” he said.
Understandably, the noticeably fit Sprinkles only carries 9.9 percent of body fat.
Except for trigonometry, playing quarterback is Sprinkles’ toughest assignment at STHS. He’s the ignition for what he expects to be a very potent offense next fall.
“You just can not relax and not do anything for football. I always have to practice my three-step drops, sprintouts, rollouts, play action, reviewing the plays and learning the timing of where my receivers are going to be,” Sprinkles said. “It’s something you review day by day.”
South Tahoe won four of nine football games last fall with its rookie varsity signal-caller at the controls. Jaureguito was in awe of Sprinkles’ quick development in the game’s most demanding position.
“I kind of expected him to do well, but it did catch me by surprise that he did so well. With Tim, he’s talented in a lot of different ways. He can run, too, so that makes him a threat not only as a passer but a runner. We didn’t have that as part of our offense previously and didn’t explore that previously. But now we’ve revised our offense enough that we’re going to take advantage of his talents,” Jaureguito said. “He’s intelligent, has great work ethic and he’s very coachable. You don’t need to tell him more than once and he does it.”
While he’s downright offensive in football, Sprinkles gets down and dirty in basketball. He takes great pride in being the Vikings’ defensive stopper.
“Here was Tim, normally a perimeter player, having to guard players like (Sparks 6-6 center Randy) Messenger and holding him to six points while scoring 18. Not many guys could handle that,” Orlich said.
“Defense is what I pride myself on and that just comes from the want to work hard and not let your man to outwork you. If you outwork your man, don’t let him catch the ball and try and stay in front of him with your feet, if you want that to happen and you try and never give up, that’s pretty much what basketball is to me right now.”
With McCollum fully recovered, Sprinkles will return to his rightful position on the wing next winter.
About the only thing missing from Sprinkles’ standout prep career is a championship. He’s won division titles with the basketball program, but he wants more.
“I really haven’t been part of a true championship team, and that’s something I want to be a part of before I get out of here next year. I want to win a zone championship in just something this year. I’m not going to rest until it happens,” he said.
Sprinkles credits his mom, Cindy, with his development and love for athletics.
“We’d go in the back yard and I’d play catch with her. We’d be out there throwing the football around, we’d throw the baseball and she’d even play basketball with me,” he said.
If Sprinkles didn’t love baseball so much, he probably would have given golf and track and field a shot by now.
“Since the high school only lets us choose one, I think I’m a little bit better in baseball. But I have a great time doing the other two,” he said.
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