Triplett will graduate from Lakes with no regrets
Regrets can last a lifetime.
A senior at Lakes High School, Leighsean Triplett figures he's way too young to start having any of those.
So then, football it was this fall.
"I missed football," Triplett said. "And I didn't want to have that regret hanging over my head."
Triplett played football at Lakes as a freshman. He was a wide receiver and a defensive back.
Then basketball became a priority. Triplett realized during the winter of his freshman year that he was pretty darn good at basketball, and that maybe he should put more of a focus on it, and the chance to earn a college scholarship.
So AAU basketball took the place of football when Triplett was a sophomore. Junior year, Triplett thought about going back to football in the fall, but a knee injury in track the previous spring was holding him back from being at full strength. So he skipped football again.
Last spring, while thinking about his future, the question came around again.
Football? Should Triplett play as a senior in the fall?
This is where the worry of regrets comes into play.
"I knew how fun football can be, playing with all your friends, your brothers, that's a great time," Triplett said. "And there's just something about going out on a Friday night with a packed crowd and doing something for your school while playing a game you really enjoy. I just love the hype around football."
So Triplett came back to football this year, and he's been giving the crowd at Lakes something to be hyped about.
After his two-year hiatus, Triplett is playing like he hasn't missed a beat. The senior defensive back leads Lake County with 4 interceptions on the season. He got 2 of those interceptions against Deerfield, and he ran in an interception against Highland Park back for a 40-yard touchdown.
"He's a really big part of our defense," Lakes coach Jordan Eder said of Triplett. "With his athleticism, he's been able to make an immediate impact and a smooth transition from basketball.
"I think Leighsean was always intrigued about coming back to football, but maybe he was worried about getting injured again, or maybe he felt too consumed by AAU basketball. But we talked a lot about the benefits of football and how they could actually help him with basketball. And we also talked a lot about not having any regrets."
Eder thinks there could be other kids at Lakes High School who may have regrets about football, kids who maybe gave up football after a year or two because they weren't playing much, or who believed they should specialize in their dominant sport.
"I hope Leighsean's situation and how he came back and how he is fitting into everything so nicely and is doing so well is an eye-opener to other kids," Eder said. "I know so much of the mindset these days is on specialization, but there is so much benefit to playing multiple sports, and football is a great sport and it's really fun and we hope this encourages kids to jump in and give football a shot."
Eder has had Triplett in a strength and conditioning class for the last two years, and never missed an opportunity to encourage Triplett to reconsider football.
"I think he saw something special in me," Triplett said of Eder. "I'm glad he kept talking to me. I'm having a really fun time. Football is something I look forward to every day. And it's something I knew I could do. I just had to put the work in and I did that this past summer. There was a lot of lifting and early practices in the morning, all while I was still playing basketball."
Speaking of basketball, Triplett is still dialed in on that.
In fact, he's feeling even more confident about his basketball game after spending, believe it or not, less time on it, because of his obligations to football.
"Football has made me a better basketball player," said the 6-foot-1 Triplett, a point guard with dunking capability. "All the lifting, I'm stronger. I can attack the rim and finish at the rim better. My vertical is getting better. I dunked six to seven times last year. I'm hoping to do that a lot more this year.
"I think football has helped a lot with basketball. There's a lot of positives about playing football."
Of course, a big positive for Triplett is the comfort of knowing that he will leave Lakes having no regrets about his football career.
Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw