J-M star Laster considers two sports at Westminster

Jackson-Milton senior Noah Laster loves a challenge. The three-sport standout for the Blue Jays recently announced his intentions to attend Westminster College next fall, where he’ll potentially attempt to do something that very few college athletes do — play two sports.

Laster is considering football and basketball as his two sports of choice.

“Right now, I’m still deciding (which sport I’ll play). I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle it, with academics and all,” Laster said. “I’m currently leaning more toward football.”

Surprisingly, Laster’s best sport is actually baseball. Laster has been heavily recruited by Eastern Michigan, but he says that he’s not as passionate about the sport as he used to be.

However, Laster would not rule out a possible return to the diamond at Westminster at some point. The Blue Jays’ standout shortstop is being recruited to play catcher at the next level.

It should not be a surprise that Laster turned down a major program like Eastern Michigan, as he has already moved from a larger program to a smaller program. Laster started his high school career at Austintown Fitch, following a move from his native Lousiana, where he did the exact opposite — he grew up in a small town before moving to the big city of Shreveport.

Laster spent two years with the Falcons, but said that he wanted to get his grades up, and was welcomed with open arms to Jackson-Milton as a junior. Athletics alone is a good enough reason for the Blue Jays to get excited about him, as the 6-foot-2, 205-pound standout has shined these past two years in every sport at which he tries.

While he has experienced great memories on the gridiron and on the baseball diamond with two of Jackson-Milton’s most successful athletic programs, it’s his experiences with the struggling Blue Jay basketball team that proved he can overcome adversity.

Jackson-Milton’s boys basketball program went 0-23 Laster’s junior year, which nearly propelled him to quit the team. However, under the direction of new head coach Stephen Procopio, the Blue Jays have been significantly more competitive on a nightly basis this season, despite a 6-16 record.

Procopio himself said that he didn’t get to meet Laster until after football season this past year, but once he got a chance to talk to Laster, he was sold on the chance to give it one more go. Laster, in fact, has become the focal point of the Blue Jays team, as he averages 21 points and 14 boards in an offense in which he gets the ball on just about every possession.

“We’re most successful when Noah gets touches,” Procopio said. “He wants to win. Guys collapse on him a lot, and he’s seen a lot of zone (defense) this year. Every time Noah gets to the middle, he either kicks it out for wide-open 3’s or goes to the rim.”

That toughness and physicality is also a reason why he’s such a standout on the gridiron. The star wide receiver has reportedly run a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, and he’ll use that speed to become a matchup nightmare in Division III with the Titans (should he choose to play football).

Laster said that the Titan coaching staff is looking to move him to tight end, where he’d be asked to bulk up by about 20-30 pounds. Laster says that he’s played in a spread offense his whole high school career — which could make blocking a challenge, but based on the toughness and grit he’s shown throughout his prep career, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

So when Laster gets to college, what does he expect, regardless of the sport (s) he chooses?

“I think I’ll do a lot better in football in college,” Noah said. “(But if I play basketball) I’ll need to improve my ballhandling. I play the three (small forward) and all of those guys in college can handle the basketball. That’s where I struggle, but if I get that fixed, I think I’ll be fine.”