4 Downs with Colonial Heights athlete Haden Crowder, a high school senior who has excelled as multisport standout
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — Chances are good that if you’ve been to a Colonial Heights athletic event in the past couple of years, you’ve seen Haden Crowder compete.
In the fall, he’s an explosive volleyball player. In the winter, he’s a steady basketball player. And in the spring, Crowder is a leading force on his baseball team.
And that’s not all. The standout athlete has taken on as many as five sports across the calendar. He would run cross country events during the fall, and he also swam for the school last year, but won’t be able to this year because he hurt his shoulder.
On Wednesday, Crowder, who has been a consistent performer on the basketball team, helped his Colonials win their 2018-19 season opener over Carver Academy, contributing five points in the victory.
Crowder is coming off a memorable boys volleyball season in which he served as both a scoring and emotional leader, lasering the fiery kills across the net on the airborne attacks and unleashing the cheerful outbursts after points to further pump up his team. He helped lead Colonial Heights Boys Volleyball to the 2018 state semifinals - the second time his team has gone in the last four years, and the first time it’s done sosince the Colonials’ state championship winning season in 2015.
After basketball, Crowder will prepare for his final high school season in baseball — the sport he’s looking to play in college. Crowder has played center field and left field for the Colonials and batted .446 as the leadoff hitter during his junior season. His plan is to attend and play for NCAA Division II Chowan University.
Crowder talked about how he got into baseball, basketball and volleyball, what drives him to play so many sports and the pregame ritual that’s followed him throughout his athletic career.
FIRST DOWN: What got you into each sport that you play? What got you
into baseball? What got you into basketball? What got you into volleyball?
Crowder: Baseball and basketball, probably my family just because I’ve been playing it my whole life; since I can remember, I’ve been playing baseball and basketball. And volleyball, actually, [Kristin] Janssen, our principal, and my mom talked me into coming to tryouts my sophomore year. I actually didn’t want to try out. I wanted to play golf, but they talked me into it.
What’s been the biggest x-factor that’s kept you into each of those sports?
Crowder: The team and the friends that come and support. I just love doing it for them. I just love the support from everybody.
SECOND DOWN: Playing multiple sports like that, and of course you’ve also done cross country and swimming... playing all those sports, first off: how do you make all the time for that?
Crowder: I’m not really sure. I know with swimming, [Colonial Heights Boys Basketball head coach John Thomas Jr.] helped me a lot. He would let me leave practice a couple minutes early to go to swim practice. Thankfully a lot of times, practices aren’t at the same time and the games are on different days, and also...if I did have a game, [my coaches] would let me skip practice and go, or let me come late.
What’s driven you to just compete in so many different things?
Crowder: I guess I’m just built that way. I’ve grown up a competitive kid. Everything I do is competitive from schoolwork to just playing
games with my brother or all the sports I play.
Playing all those different sports, what are like specific ways that one sport’s helped another and vice versa?
Crowder: Definitely making me more athletic all around. I know basketball helps me with my endurance, baseball with my agility and reaction time and volleyball, being able to jump higher.
THIRD DOWN: I have to ask about volleyball since the season just ended: you’re always one of those guys who are able to fly up to the net; what just made you be able to zero in on those kills and be able to high-point the ball so well?
Crowder: I think my experience...whenever I needed to get a kill, I’d tell Grayson [Andrews], “If you can get it to me, get it to me.” Luckily, most of the time, he could get it to me, and I tried to make it happen as much as possible.
A little bit about baseball coming up...what are some goals that you have for the upcoming season…?
Crowder: For the team, I’m expecting us to try to make it to the regional championship...hopefully we’ll win that and go on to states. Personally, I would love to be First Team All-State so I can say I did better than last year.
What are your strengths so far in baseball and then after that, what are things that you’re looking to improve on in baseball?
Crowder: Right now my strength is definitely my speed and being able to be a contact hitter so I can outrun a slow roller in the infield. Right now, I’m trying to work on more power, hitting it more in the gaps more often, because last year I only had one double on the season. That’s what I’m trying to work on right now. For basketball, [what are] strengths that you
have and [what are] the things you’re looking to work on…?
Crowder: I’d say one of my strengths for basketball is being able to shoot; I’ve focused on that my whole life. And then one thing I’m trying to improve is being a better passer, and being a better defender.
FOURTH DOWN: What’s like a pregame ritual or activity that’s kind of followed you throughout your athletic career?
Crowder: Going to get something to eat...I get Skittles and a soda before every game.
TURNOVER ON DOWNS TO YOU: Outside of sports...what’s like a favorite activity or hobby?
Crowder: Spending time with my friends and family. I love being around people. It’s just great to be around them. That’s just all I like to do really: sports and being around people.
Colonial Heights multisport standout Haden Crowder.