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Preps Juice Like the Pros

The Reality of Steroids in High School Baseball

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentary, Dennis Coles Posted: Mar 13, 2009

Editors Note: The continuing saga of Major League Baseball doping brought to the forefront by Yankee player Alex Rodriguez has an affect on young athletes, says 17-year-old high school baseball player Dennis Coles (whose name has been changed). Coles is a pitcher for his high school baseball team and a die-hard Giants fan.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Known steroid users like Alex Rodriguez, Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro have been all over the news recently. These juicers have been investigated by Major League Baseball, the FBI and even by Congress. A lot of time and money is being put into eliminating steroids from professional baseball, but some high school athletes I know think that illegal substances are the way to make it to the big leagues.

I am a high school baseball player at an urban school of about 2400 students. Our sports teams are pretty competitive in our shoddy public school league. But when we play out-of-city games, the private suburban schools usually annihilate us. We dont have a lot of athletes who go on to play Division 1, the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. And we arent known for being a prospect breeding ground. But when two of my close baseball friends thought that they needed an extra boost, they decided steroids were a good idea.

If you are thinking there are some high school kids who were pressured by their chances of making the team, you are wrong. When they were in eighth grade, which is still junior high, they decided that if they wanted to make it to the major leagues they needed something more than everyone else. Plus, their allowances were unusually high for their age. They were both huge fans of Barry Bonds, (more than you could possibly know), and their reasoning for juicing was: We thought all the Major Leaguers were doing it, so we needed to too if we wanted to be in the big leagues.

So they went on the Internet and ordered some anabolic steroids. It wasnt hard. After they started taking the pills and tongue drops, they began to notice how much stronger they felt. One of them, Jeremy, told me he could tell right away that his muscles just felt bigger, and the drugs definitely added power to their swings.

After the eighth grade, the two enrolled in different high schools -- one private and one public. But they were still best friends. Jeremy became a backup catcher on the varsity team at the beginning of his freshman year, possibly, he thinks, because of the extra power the steroids gave him. Neither of them ever felt any paranoia about getting caught because they knew no one suspected anything. Who would think that a couple eighth graders who still think farts are funny and that girls have cooties are using steroids?

Jeremy continued to use steroids all the way through his freshman year, and the only reason he stopped was because his friend had stopped. Jeremy decided that he couldnt keep ordering them to his house without his parents finding out. When he became clean, his muscles got smaller. He felt a lot weaker.

When I found out about their steroid use, I was already a freshman and Jeremy was a sophomore. By then he and his best friend had already quit. Jeremy was on varsity while I was still on junior varsity. I first thought that it was just a stupid rumor. But then I asked him and he confirmed the story.

It made me think: If he didnt take steroids, would he still be on JV with me? If I had taken steroids, would I have made it to varsity? I never really seriously considered juicing myself, but I still imagined what would happen if I did. It was kind of taboo amongst the team because no one really wanted to bring it up, and the only things I ever really heard were: Wow, I cant believe they actually juiced! and I wonder if his nuts shrank?

Jeremy is now a senior who had found a steady job, and does not plan on going to college. His friend still goes to the same private school and plays football there, but he wasnt available for an interview. They are both popular, have lots of friends and seem like they are living normal lives.

When kids are looking at the major leagues and thinking that the only way to get there is by using steroids, something is wrong. Jeremy said that possible ways to get high school students to stay off of illegal substances is to educate them more about the dangers and side effects of steroids, and to have testing for it in high school. But he sounded unsure whether education could stop it completely. As of right now, there are no steroids-awareness classes that we could take to help students stay off of steroids. We are forced to take a health education class in the ninth grade, but no one takes it seriously. Also, they already were using steroids for a year before they even got to that point.

The problem clearly starts with the major leagues. If players like Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens are models for the next generation, there are going to be tons of kids wholl make the same mistakes Jeremy and his friend did. If Major League Baseball and other professional sports leagues can have their players clean up, then the youth of America can have stronger role models who arent just physically stronger, but who can teach us the right way to play the game.

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