Canyon's Cole Apsay
dominates on hardwood and field
February, 2012 - Issue #88
There was some tongue biting. Canyon High head boys basketball coach Chad Phillips admits the first thought in his mind wasn't necessarily the supportive one. But he held back when his best player Coley Apsay told him prior to the summer that he was going to play football.

There was a heck of a lot of risk for Apsay, a two-time All-Foothill League selection and a preseason favorite for 2012 Foothill League Basketball Player of the Year, in playing football.

As physical as football is, Apsay could get hurt and wave goodbye to a potential basketball scholarship. Or by devoting less time to basketball in the summer, his exposure to college coaches could diminish. It turns out, though, that Apsay's foray into football proved to be boon, not only to himself, but his school. And today he's back thriving on the basketball court.

"I care for Coley probably more so than any player I've coached," Phillips says. "It was a good fit [for him to play football]. [Football] coach [Rich] Gutierrez was great. You can't limit someone as athletic as Coley is. It was a benefit for the school."

Apsay played for the Cowboys freshman football team in 2008. But his athletic career has been defined by what he can do on the hardwood. He is a longtime club basketball player, having played for three teams including his father Alan's SCV Lightning. Apsay has been on the Cowboys varsity team for four seasons, enjoying his greatest success last season when he averaged 18 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals per game. The 18-year-old is on the radar of multiple colleges, Phillips says, who like the leadership and skills that the point guard possesses.

But Apsay says there was something he missed about football and risk was no comparison to the potential of regret. "The biggest part was being with my old friends," Apsay says. "My freshman year, I made a lot of friendships. A lot of these guys were some of my best friends and I never got to hang out with them during basketball season."

Phillips admits that at the high school level there is sometimes friction between coaches who share players between two bet365 sports. It was never that way with him and Gutierrez. They set up a schedule where Apsay would be able to practice with both teams in the summer. But the now two-sport athlete would participate in far less summer league basketball games. Phillips said that, in a way, benefited his team because others players gained valuable court experience and it led others to take on more of a leadership role.

There was an acclimation process of sorts, though, for Apsay on the football field. "I think the biggest thing that was most difficult was the speed of the game and how big the guys got," Apsay says. "I think I had to get in the weight room more." But Gutierrez says that was the only hang-up. Because of Apsay's athleticism, smarts and work ethic, he was able to not just adjust to the football field, but also thrive on it.

"His intangibles are untouchable," Gutierrez says. "He's the purest athlete I've ever coached. He just performs. He's a great leader."

Both coaches gush when talking about Apsay. He's a respectable kid and a good student who carries a 3.4 GPA. Apsay is involved in leadership activities at Canyon High and away from school, he volunteers with local nonprofit Bridges to Ability, which provides educational, vocational and social skills to the developmentally disabled.

"Some of these people are the coolest people," Apsay says of the Bridges to Ability clients. His mother, Chris, is the organization's program director. "You learn a lot about the world around you. It's very humbling. You see people with different disabilities, and you thank God for the things you have."

So it's no surprise that Apsay, despite missing two years of football and coming onto a talented team with established leadership, became a positive force and a leader for the Cowboys football team. At season's end, Apsay was selected as an All-Foothill first-teamer. The wide receiver caught 39 passes for 497 yards and scored eight touchdowns for the 9-3 Cowboys. "His determination to come back and say, 'Hey, I want to give it another shot,' he wanted another chance to compete. It takes courage," Gutierrez says.

But in late November, during the week that proved to be the end of the Cowboys' season, Apsay suffered a mild sprain of the AC joint of his shooting shoulder. Gutierrez told Apsay he didn't have to play through the injury. Apsay did. "It wasn't too extreme where I could lose everything," Apsay says.

Football season came to a close and Apsay got back on the basketball court - injury free but needing to regain the stamina it takes to play basketball. Early on, he wasn't quite Coley Apsay. Then he started getting that old form back. He's now basketball Coley Apsay
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