Born into an athletic family, it was no surprise that eleventh-grader Liam O’Malley found his calling in both baseball and football. O’Malley has been playing sports since the age of seven and currently plays both sports for Booker High School. He plays as outfielder and catcher for the varsity baseball team and safety and long snapper for the varsity football team.
“A bunch of people ask me why I play at Booker, since it is so far from my house and not common to play at, and it’s because I believe in that school and the coaches. There is a negative stigma at Booker and I don’t think its warranted,” O’Malley said, “Every time I tell someone I play there they ask why not Venice or Riverview; it just seems like it gets overlooked and is the irrelevant school.”
O’Malley began playing because of his familial influence; his mother played softball in high school and his older brother played football. Since the age of seven, he has increased his ability through practice and tournaments in both sports. O’Malley started out playing baseball through Little League Baseball and later progressed to play at Booker High School, where he also practices football.
O’Malley practices Monday through Saturday and has games every Friday during football season and frequent games all throughout the season for baseball. These practices span from 2:15 to 6 p.m. where the team works out and does drills, such as step-overs and catching and throwing.
Though the games are mostly local, O’Malley’s team has traveled as far as Lakeland to play against rival teams.
“The best part about the sport is feeling like a team and the team itself… having that family,” O’Malley said.
This rigorous schedule combined with O’Malley’s heavy academic workload can be strenuous at times, but he balances his time well so he can do both. “It definitely makes [doing school work] harder, but it doesn’t make it impossible,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley hopes that his virtuosity in the two sports can get him to college and help take the burden off his family, who are his primary pillars of support. O’Malley finds motivation in making his family proud, helping them out and not letting them down.
“Liam is the smartest player I have worked with, and I’ve been around this sport for over 15 years. There were multiple times in different games that I can remember he knew what plays we wanted to call before we called them because he’s that smart. I can easily see Liam playing at a higher level, meaning college and higher. I think with as smart as he is, he will make an amazing coach one day and I hope when that one day he will be coaching alongside with me,” O’Malley’s JV Football coach from 2018, Erik Rowan said.