By VINCE PELUSO
If someone told Pymatuning Valley’s Tim Cross that he would be a collegiate football player, he would’ve told them they had the wrong sport.
Afterall, the Laker star scored more than 1,000 points in his basketball career and was the leader of the a PV team that won 18 games this past season.
“I never would’ve thought I’d play football in college,” he said. “I didn’t think about it until I saw who was recruiting me for what. I always thought I’d play basketball, it was always my dream and what I thought I’d do, but...”
Cross is headed to Thiel College to play for the Tomcats football team this fall.
“It was really just their interest in me and they seemed to be the best choice,” he said. “They made me feel like they really wanted me to be there. It was tough for me to choose. I love basketball. I love all the sports I played (he also played baseball).
“I just had my open house and I was talking to people and I was saying it’s kind of hard for me to choose one sport to play because I’m so used to playing three and I loved them all.”
Cross, who plans to major in pre-physical therapy, said the financial assitance Thiel offered him in addition to the education he feels can receive made the school his top choice.
“They gave me a pretty good financial package,” he said. “When I went there the professors seemed really nice and it’s not too big of a school so the student to teacher ratio is really good. Academics were really important to me.”
While Cross was an excellent defensive back while at PV, he was best known for his receiving abilities as he racked up plenty of yards for the Lakers offense.
The Tomcats plan to play him as a defensive back, but Cross said that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“I’m fine with that, I still get to catch the ball, right?” he said with a laugh. “I just gotta make a play on the ball like I did on offense. Whatever gets me on the field is fine. Things could change, too.”
While the challenge of moving away from home can be difficult for some, Cross won’t be alone in the process.
His high school teammate, Cody Ellis, isn’t just going to Thiel to play football as well, but the two will be roommates.
“It’ll definitely be nice to have him,” he said. “He’s playing with me and we’re rooming together. I’m staying with him because I know he’s someone I can trust. I’ve grown up with him and we’ve played a few sports together.
“It should be a lot of fun.”
Cross said he had plenty of strong influences while at PV.
He singled out his basketball coach for four years, Ryan Fitch, as well as his football coach Neal Croston and baseball coach Steve Urchek among his biggest influences.
“Coach Fitch, me and him had a very strong relationship, he encouraged me with a lot of thing, I really can’t say enough about what Fitch taught me about life and basketball,” he said. “The Schontz family were all big influences on me. Steve Urchek had a great impact on me. He taught me the little things about baseball. When I first played baseball I had no idea it was so complicated and all the terminology. Coach Urchek taught me that (Cross was honorable mention all-state for baseball his senior year).
“Also (baseball) Coach (Nathan) Smith. For football, I learned so much from Coach Croston. He taught me a lot about coverages and those things, that will benefit me next year.”
The son of Tim and Chirstine Cross said his parents were very helpful in helping him pick a sport, and college.
“They’ve been very supportive of me and wanted me to do what I think is best,” he said. “I would tell them, ‘I don’t know what sport I want to do.’ My dad leaned a little more towards football, my mom is a little more laid back.
“But they both said I can do whatever I wanted and they were very supportive of my decision.”
Of his favorite memory while at PV, Cross said he didn’t have just one memory, but enjoyed the whole experience.
“Just playing with the guys, day in and day out, that was a blast for me,” he said. “Playing with them and going out every night and playing hard regardless of the outcome, it was a blast for me.
“We played a lot of great games, they didn’t always end the way we wanted but we always played hard.”