Braden Bohannon’s favorite time of year is the summer.
That may seem strange, since there are no high school sports in the summer. For Bohannon, a perfect day is a smorgasbord of all of them.
“I’ll have summer league (basketball) in the morning,’’ he said before an Elco basketball practice last week.
“Then, football work — come back and lift and stuff — and then probably have a legion baseball game in the evening. Those were the best days.’’
Bohannon is a classic three-sport athlete - football, basketball, baseball - of the type old-timers claim no longer exist.
He has been varsity starter at Elco, in all three, since he was a freshman. In football, he’s been all-state twice and, in 2020, was named Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Four Back, Offensive Back and Defensive Back of the year and led the entire league in rushing as a quarterback.
In basketball, he’s averaging 20.2 points per game, has 1,350 career points and is likely to finish as Elco’s second-leading career scorer.
In baseball … nobody’s actually played high school or legion ball around here since 2019, but Bohannon is an outfielder and pitcher whom Lyle Krall, an Elco assistant coach with 60 years experience, says should consider playing the sport in college.
Krall is the patriarch of Lebanon County baseball. He thinks everybody should play it.
“He’d be an asset on any team, in any sport,’’ Krall said Wednesday. “If he put as much training time into baseball as he did football and basketball, he’d be very, very good.’’
Even in baseball season, Bohannon divides his time between Elco’s baseball and track teams. He runs the 100 and 200 meter dashes.
People who know the sport and have seen him play say Bohannon could be one of the better tennis players in the L-L if he chose.
He won a Lebanon County Golf Association age-group championship when he was 10.
Weekend visits to his grandparents are largely spent around a pool table. Grandpa’s pretty good, usually not good enough.
“I love ping pong,’’ Bohannon said.
Last summer, a pandemic staple was lifting at home with football teammates Cole Thomas and Logan Tice, and then playing ping-pong for a little cash.
“It’s just easy money,’’ Bohannon said.
He started early. Braden’s first “rival,’’ as a little boy was a very friendly one, his cousin, Stephen Lyons, a football-swimming-lacrosse player at Palmyra High now on the swimming team at Ursinus College.
“We’re pretty close, and we'd play football, baseball, basketball, anything,’’ Bohannon said. “We’d wrestle. Anything we could think of to be going against each other.’’
Bohannon started playing organized sports at age seven. The raw competitiveness needed refining.
“I was a pretty sore loser,’’ he admitted. “I would throw tantrums.’’
Soon he was dominant. But he, and his parents, drew from the experience of Braden’s older brother Brett, a reluctant athlete who would sometimes go through an entire youth basketball game without touching the ball.
“There were times, in youth basketball, when, honestly, he could have scored 50 every game,’’ Braden’s Dad, Doug Bohannon, said. “But he’d try to get his teammates involved.’’
Doug was also a multi-sport athlete, and quarterback, at Elco. He says Braden beat him in driveway one-on-one hoops for the first time in seventh grade. Braden thinks it was sixth, and added a little dig.
“He was getting pretty frustrated, I do remember that,’’ he said.
Doug is the athletic director at Elco, the chairman of District Three and a member of the PIAA Board of Directors.
Braden has always had the keys to the gym, always spent an hour or so shooting after every Elco home game as Doug sat in his office, tallying the ticket sales and cleaning up the AD’s work for the night.
Braden also sat in the front row, or stood on the sidelines, for countless district and state playoff games.
When playing college sports became a possibility, father and son would travel to football and basketball games all over the region, from Old Dominion in Virginia to West Point in New York, all levels, to watch and observe.
“I think I have an advantage over a regular dad,’’ Doug said. “He ate that up.’’
When the college recruiting started, it soon became clear that the kid who’s good at every sport wasn’t considered an elite college prospect in any one.
“A lot of people don’t realize how good Division Three sports are,’’ Doug said. “I really think he could play division two football, but, I talked to 4-5 coaches, and they all told me the same thing.’’
He’s 5-11. His 40-yard dash is in the 4.6 range. Elco played a veer offense and almost never threw the football his junior or senior years. The pandemic robbed Bohannon of the chance, at camps and clinics, to show people.
That led to a very Bohannon-esque alternative: Playing multiple college sports.
He will play football and basketball at Lebanon Valley College. It won’t be easy, but LVC has no problem trying him at quarterback, no problem with his joining the basketball team after the season’s already started, and will allow him to major in exercise science with a goal of becoming a strength coach.
Seems kind of perfect.