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Rustin’s Andrew Chobany is a ‘throwback’ to different generation of 3-sport stars

FH_Andrew_Chobany_croppedAndrew Chobany

By Andy Edwards @CHCAndyEdwards
For Chesmontsports.com

School: West Chester Rustin
Favorite athlete: Andrew McCutchen
Favorite food: Cheeseburgers
Favorite movie: Lone Survivor
Favorite TV show: Prison Break
Favorite music: Country

WEST CHESTER – His basketball coach calls him “a coach’s dream.” His football coach calls him “a throwback.” And his baseball coach just calls him “special.”

Amidst those rave reviews, perhaps the greatest compliment Andrew Chobany could receive is this: He is a highly-skilled and accomplished athlete in three different sports, yet each of his coaches is more than content to hand him off to the others when their season ends. 

FH_Andrew_Chobany_football“It would not be fair to Andrew if any of our coaches made him a one-sport athlete,” West Chester Rustin football boss Mike St. Clair said of Chobany, a standout in football, basketball, and baseball. “Andrew is the person he is because he is a multi-sport athlete. He had the opportunity to create memories and friendships that will last forever. He will not look back 15 years from now and say, ‘I should have played this sport back in high school.’”

In an age of specialization, three-sport athletes are going the way of the dodo. As young athletes get to high school, many are encouraged to drop one or more sports to play just one, often in the hope that that singular focus will lead to a college scholarship. At Rustin, Chobany has experienced no such pressures; in fact, his coaches have always encouraged him to play the other sports and often reap the benefits of his well-rounded experience. Despite being unable to work with him year-round, they see it as a win-win (a win-win-win-win, to be precise), a mutually beneficial arrangement.

“In practice the coaches will say, ‘Andrew gets this from basketball or baseball or football,’ so they definitely encourage kids to play other sports,” Chobany said. “I know for a fact that it helps.”

Chobany proves the truth of that statement with each succeeding season. If three-sport athletes are rare, three-sport stars might fall somewhere between endangered species and unicorn in terms of prevalence. But that’s exactly what Chobany is: a rare breed, the athlete’s answer to a Renaissance man.

For St. Clair, Chobany was an integral part of a Rustin powerhouse that compiled a 36-4 regular-season mark and won three Ches-Mont titles in his four years. A wide receiver and defensive back, he led the league with six interceptions – enough to earn him a second team All-Ches-Mont laurel – and caught a 29-yard touchdown pass in a 41-20 shellacking of rival Unionville. Chobany returned an interception for a touchdown in a victory over Great Valley, and picked off another pass in Rustin’s 47-13 thrashing of Conestoga in the first round of this year’s District 1-AAAA playoffs. Just as important, he was an extension of the coaching staff on the field and a highly respected leader off it.

“Andrew is a throwback student-athlete,” St. Clair said. “He understands where both academics and athletics stand in his life, and his parents should be given a great deal of credit for instilling the values and work ethic he has.

“Andrew is a always a ‘yes, Coach’ type of player who comes to practice every day with a smile on his face.”

FH_Andrew_Chobany_basketballOnce football ends, St. Clair hands Chobany off to basketball coach Keith Cochran, who talks glowingly about his senior star at every opportunity – and why not? On the hardwood, Chobany is a skilled forward with ‘basketball IQ’ in spades. A three-year captain, his leadership has blossomed this season in the absence of graduated star Ethan Ridgeway, who along with Chobany – a second team all-league performer – helped lead the Golden Knights to the PIAA quarterfinals a year ago.

Now the alpha dog on a relatively inexperienced outfit, Chobany did the heavy lifting as the Golden Knights posted an 8-4 league record and earned another district playoff berth, their third in as many years.

“I’ve been playing with Ethan for three years, and I learned a lot from him,” said Chobany, who led the team with 14 points and seven rebounds per game. “This year I’ve been applying the same things he did to the team to keep the tradition going.

“It’s great knowing that Coach has a lot of confidence in me to do anything that we want. He sets his goals high, so obviously there’s a lot of trust in his players.”

Like his other coaches, Chobany has given Cochran reason for that faith his entire career. Ask Chobany what he’ll miss most about playing three sports at Rustin, and he’ll point to practice and its team-building quality.

“Andrew is a natural leader,” Cochran said. “He takes his practices just like the games. You know you’re getting his best every time he steps on the court.”

Chobany was certainly at his best down the stretch run of his last hoops campaign. Needing a furious finish to have a shot at districts, the Golden Knights closed the regular season on a four-game winning streak to safely enter the district field with the No. 24 seed.

“Coach told us we had to win out to make districts,” said Chobany, who points to last year’s 60-57 win over Parkland in the second round of states – when he scored a team-high 15 points – as his best basketball memory. “Last year, you could tell that the seniors kicked it up a notch when we went to playoffs. As a senior this year, these last four games were basically playoff games, and I knew I had to step it up to another level to get to the playoffs.”

With a 68-55 loss to Ridley on Friday night, Chobany’s basketball career came to an end, though he will likely be named to the Ches-Mont League first team when postseason honors are doled out. Like St. Clair, Cochran must now say goodbye to one of his most cherished charges – and that certainly won’t be easy.

“Andrew is the heartbeat of our team,” he said. “I can’t imagine not having him the last four years.

“Andrew is one of those kids that you just have to have on your team.”

FH_Andrew_Chobany_baseballNext up in Chobany’s seemingly never-ending cycle of sports is baseball season, which turns out to be his favorite time of year – if he had to choose, of course.

“I would say baseball is my favorite sport,” Chobany said. “Just because I love being outside. I like going out and throwing – it’s relaxing.”

With that small measure of bragging rights over St. Clair and Cochran, baseball coach Brad Harkins is undoubtedly anxious to have Chobany on board for his senior season. A starting third baseman and pitcher, Chobany has helped Rustin reach the district playoffs two straight years.

“He is a joy to coach because he is willing to do anything to make himself and his team better,” Harkins said. “He always has a positive attitude…what makes Andrew a special athlete is the fact that he hasn’t bought into the hype of specialization, yet he is able to compete at high levels in each sport.”

Hoping to be a captain this year, Chobany could add to his considerable legacy with an all-league baseball nod this spring. That would give him a nearly unheard-of triple crown; Rustin AD Chris Lunardi believes Tori Dugan ’09 (soccer, basketball, lacrosse) is the only other athlete in school history to earn all-league honors in three sports. Chobany’s first priority, though, is always the team.

“I expect us to be pretty good,” Chobany said. “A lot of seniors have played together for so long, and we just have a lot of chemistry. I think this season will turn out better than most people expect.”

With Chobany on their side, the Golden Knights are right to expect success. Though he hasn’t been able to start practicing yet, his time on the gridiron and hardwood should ease his transition to the diamond.

“I think playing other sports helps me out in the other sports, because the things you need to do in one will help you out in another,” Chobany said. “Practice all year is tough, but my parents make sure I get my schoolwork done. There are some late nights, but you just push through them – nothing else you can do.”

And in everything he does, Chobany knows he has the full support of his coaches and school, which has been a pipeline for multi-sport stars in recent years.

“What makes Andrew such a special student-athlete and representative of Rustin athletics is how hard he works at all three sports,” Lunardi said. “The days of the three-sport athlete are almost gone now, but Andrew’s ability and work ethic have allowed him to be a leader on three of our most successful programs here, something very few athletes are able to do.

“(Mike, Keith, and Brad) are all firm believers in pushing our athletes to play more than one sport. From Rondell White to Anthony Nash to Ethan Ridgeway to guys like Andrew, we’ve been fortunate to have had a bunch of kids that have bought into that philosophy.”

“I wish more kids followed in his footsteps,” Harkins added. “It has helped him develop more as an all-around athlete, and he is hungry to compete in each sport when that season comes along.”

For Chobany, it’s about hanging on to activities he’s enjoyed for much of his life. When it came down to it, quitting any of them simply wasn’t an option.

“My group of friends and I grew up playing a bunch of sports, and going on through high school we just didn’t want to give it up, so we kept playing,” he said. “Whether we liked one sport or the other, we just didn’t want to give it up.”

After baseball season, Chobany’s high school career will come to an end. As of now, he is unsure where he will go to college, or even if he will play a sport when he gets there. Chobany says he might try to walk on somewhere if a scholarship offer doesn’t come, and would be happy to continue playing basketball, baseball, or football at the next level.

It’s always nice to have options.

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