BY CHAD DARE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DANVILLE — Playing multiple sports is something that Mike Vascura has always done.
The 6-foot-3, 253-pound senior is a three-year starter for the Danville football team and this spring will be his third straight season on the Vikings varsity baseball team.
“He is a kid, like a lot in our program, that play multiple sports here at Danville,’’ said football coach and athletics director B.J. Luke. “We’ve designed our athletics program here to be that way, where we share our kids through out the year. He is a good example of that.
“Mike is a good lineman and he is skilled enough to snap the ball — he could also play tight end if we needed him to. In the spring, he is an outstanding pitcher and first baseman for the baseball team.’’
But, this season, Vascura has expanded on versatility.
After playing limited downs on defense a year ago, recording 10 tackles for the Vikings. This year, he is starting at defensive end and last week against Champaign Centennial, Vacura had three tackles including his first-ever sack.
“It’s been a little difficult adapting to going both ways,’’ Vascura said. “It gets to be a little exhausting, but I’m working through it and I’m getting used to going both ways.’’
Additionally, he also made a switch on the offensive line this season.
After starting as an offensive tackle as a sophomore, Vascura spent all of last year at center, but this year, he’s back outside at tackle.
“I played the other tackle position during my sophomore season, so I’m used to that position,’’ he said. “Bascially, I know what its like to be out on the edge, because I also played some tight end during my sophomore season.
“It’s really not a big deal.’’
According to Luke, the Vikings made the change to take advantage of Vascura’s athletic ability.
“He really fits the bill of what we want from our tackles,’’ Luke said. “When you are playing inside, like he was last year, there is limited space and you have help on either side of you. Now, he is playing our open end tackle spot, and we need an athlete that can run and be physical enough to capture that edge for us.’’
Vascura admitted he had an idea he was making the move before the season even started.
“Last year, I was in coach (Dan) Hile’s class and he kind of hinted around about during school,’’ said Vascura of his offensive line coach. “So, I was kind of expecting it and when we started two-a-days this year, it happened.’’
And what does he see as the biggest difference between center and tackle, besides snapping the football?
“The center is more a muscle-man position — you have to do a lot of grunt work down there,’’ Vascura said. “At tackle, you are playing on the edge and being athletic, and/or faster, is important. You have to be a little quicker to get to your blocks.
“You are also on your own when you are playing on the edge. When you make a mistake, things will really stick out.’’
And while the offensive line is where Vascura is a three-year starter, he admits that he likes playing on the defensive line just a little more.
“You get to hit people and tackle on defense,’’ he said. “That’s a little more exciting.’’
So, does he give more effort on defense?
“Oh no,’’ Vascura said. “You have to go just as hard on both sides of the ball. I can’t favor one side or the other, because that will weakened that entire side of the ball.’’
Danville senior lineman Austin West, who is a teammate on the both the football and baseball teams, said Vascura’s biggest strengths is his ability to be a leader.
“He’s really good at talking with people,’’ said West, who has been playing on the defensive line for Danville. “In both sports, he is a good team leader. He tries to help everyone by talking with them and making sure that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing.’’
West definitely believes that Vascura’s best sport is baseball.
“I’ve known Mike since we were seven and playing Legion baseball together,’’ he said. “To me, he is a Division-I caliber baseball player. He’s been going to camps and showcases, and I definitely think he’s going to make it.’’
Vascura is one of eight multiple-sport standouts on the football team this season.
“I really like having those type of kids on your football team,’’ Luke said. “Those guys bring confidence. They know how to compete, because they have been doing it all year long. They are not just sitting in a weight room every day or going to camps for just one thing. They are out competing against kids in other sports and they bring a different level of athleticism to the team.’’
Away from the competitive sports, Vascura admits that he enjoys reading.
“I’m not much into books, but I really like reading newspaper articles from all over,’’ he said.
And a year ago in coach Hile’s class, Vascura said he might have found his intended major in college.
“Accounting is something that I might pursue in college,’’ he said. “I like how you see the progression of your work. When you get to the end of the lesson, you can see how it came a long the whole time.’’
Right now, Vascura hopes his Danville Vikings keep accumulating assets (wins), while limiting their liabilities (losses) on the team spreadsheet.