Commentary

Don't try this at home

High school athletes break down the most punishing positions in sports

Updated: March 5, 2012, 2:39 PM ET
By Matt Remsberg | ESPNHS

Buster PoseyMarcio Jose Sanchez/APAs Buster Posey found out last year, catcher is certainly one of the most punishing positions in sports.
This story appears in the March issue of ESPNHS magazine.

We break down the most punishing positions in sports with the high school athletes crazy enough to play them.

BASEBALL CATCHER
NAME: Clint Coulter
HIGH SCHOOL: Union (Camas, Wash.)
COLLEGE: Arizona State
BIO: Ranked nation's No. 2 catcher by ESPNHS
SAFETY HAZARDS: From foul tips to collisions at the plate, there's a reason catchers are the only baseball players who need body armor.
ON COLLISIONS AT HOME PLATE: "I remember one time a guy came in hot and slid headfirst and his braces tore into my arm. It was deep, almost down to the bone."
ON DEALING WITH FOUL TIPS: "I've taken them in the crotch, off the thigh, off the mask. But you can't worry about it. It's not humanly possible to react (in time)."
ON THE GRIND OF THE POSITION: "Doubleheaders will eat your lunch pretty good. I was catching one over the summer in Georgia and it was 100 degrees and humid. I remember stepping into the batter's box and then stepping back out and I could see my wet footprint in the dirt. I had literally sweated through my cleats. You have to be pretty crazy to handle days like that."


RUGBY FORWARD
NAME: Anthony Calnero
HIGH SCHOOL: Jesuit (Sacramento, Calif.)
COLLEGE: Cal
BIO: USA Rugby All-American for 2011 high school national championship team
SAFETY HAZARDS: Equipped with only a mouth guard and a thin helmet, forwards take part in scrums and endure collisions that would make football players wince.
ON THE COMPARISON BETWEEN FOOTBALL AND RUGBY: "To be a star in football, you have to either be a giant or a physical freak. In rugby, all you have to do is want it bad enough. The smallest guys are the ones to be afraid of. They make the biggest hits."
ON THE DANGER OF THE GAME: "Games can get ugly out of nowhere. There was one time I was getting up off the ground and then all of a sudden somebody kneed me in the head four times in a row."
ON THE MINDSET OF A RUGBY PLAYER: "You have to believe you could run over every player on the field, and you have to believe you could bring them all down. The only way to be safe is to be the most aggressive guy out there."


LACROSSE GOALIE
NAME: Dan Marino
HIGH SCHOOL: Garden City (N.Y.)
COLLEGE: Virginia
BIO: Ranked nation's No. 4 senior goalie by ESPNHS
SAFETY HAZARDS: Facing shots traveling upwards of 100 mph is one thing. Doing it with only a helmet, gloves and flimsy shoulder pads is another.
ON FACING DOWN SHOTS UP TO 100 MPH: "People see all the slashing in lacrosse, and they think that's pretty bad. But when I tell people about being a goalie, they ask all the time, 'How do you stand there in front of those shots with barely any padding?' To be honest, I don't really know the answer. I don't think there is one. But I love everything about it."
ON A COMMON INJURY GOALIES SUFFER: "Broken thumbs is something a lot of goalies I know have dealt with. If you get hit flush in the thumb while you're holding the stick, the bone can just shatter. Or sometimes you'll take a shot and it will push the thumb down and jam it pretty bad."

[+] EnlargeJake Raulerson
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comCelina (Texas) junior lineman and Texas commit Jake Raulerson is one of the nation's top recruits.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN
NAME: Jake Raulerson
HIGH SCHOOL: Celina (Texas)
COLLEGE: Texas
BIO: One of the nation's top OL recruits in the Class of 2013
SAFETY HAZARDS: Whether they're run blocking or pass protecting, offensive linemen can never take a play off, and that means every snap is a dogfight.
ON THE TOLL BLOCKING TAKES ON THE BODY: "I've broken every finger, and all my nails are deformed from getting stepped on in the pile or getting them jacked up in an opponent's pads. I have no idea where I'll put my wedding ring. That's just the way it goes. I wouldn't call a broken finger an injury -- they come with the territory."
ON NEVER TAKING A PLAY OFF:"I go hard on every play, that's just the way I am. There was one game I played and I was just dog-tired after. I got on the bus, laid down in my pads and just passed out from exhaustion all the way home."


WRESTLER
NAME: Brandon Kingsley
HIGH SCHOOL: Apple Valley (Minn.)
COLLEGE: Minnesota
BIO: Three-time state champion ranked 10th nationally at 160 pounds by InterMat
SAFETY HAZARDS: With the brute strength and precise technique required to succeed on the mat, every match is physically and mentally draining.
ON THE INTENSITY OF A MATCH: "You're constantly exerting 100 percent of your energy and focus on your opponent to survive. If you let up for an instant, that's all it takes and you're dead."
ON DEALING WITH PAIN: "I've torn my ACL twice, I've severely sprained both ankles, I've messed up my shoulders. There are parts of my body that will never be the same again. There's always pain, but it only bothers you if you let it."

Matt Remsberg is a senior editor for ESPNHS.
E-mail him here.