Franklin's Max Alba has been selected as the 2017-18 male recipient of the Pat Richter Award from WisSports.net as the Triple Threat Athlete of the Year.
The Triple Play Triple Threat of the Week is an honor given on WisSports.net to the top senior boys and girls three-sport athletes in the state. At the end of the school year, those awarded with the weekly honor are eligible for the Pat Richter Award, which will go out to the top boys and girls three-sport athlete of the season.
Hugh V. "Pat" Richter is one of Wisconsin's most storied student-athletes in state history. He was a three-sport athlete at Madison East High School, competing in football, basketball and baseball. He went on to fame at the University of Wisconsin, earning nine varsity letters in three sports and would later become the Athletic Director at Wisconsin.
Past winners of the award include Danny Vanden Boom of Kimberly (2016-17), Nate Stanley of Menomonie (2015-16), Alec Ingold of Bay Port (2014-15), Matt Ferris of Xavier (2013-14), Jester Weah of Madison Memorial (2012-13), Kyle Cody of McDonell Central (2011-12), Hank Kujak of Blair-Taylor (2010-11) and Donnie Hissa of Northwestern (2009-10).
It has been a bit of an unorthodox high school sports career for Franklin's Max Alba. He played on the Sabers' varsity football and basketball teams for four years, but did not participate on the summer baseball team until this season. Instead, he spent the first three years playing travel-team baseball in the summer.
His success on the diamond led him to accept a scholarship to play baseball at the University of North Carolina. Recruited as a pitcher, his fastball reached the lower-90's. He was also drafted in the recent Major League Baseball Draft in the 39th round by the Los Angeles Angels.
"For years, I have known in my heart that baseball is my true love," Alba told WSN's Mark Miller for his initial profile. "Although I love all three sports I play, I have always loved baseball just slightly more. Baseball was the first sport I started playing. I basically started playing it the day I could walk. From the days of my dad throwing wiffle balls to me in the backyard when I was three, to now having signed my national letter of intent to play the sport in college. It was a really hard decision to have to give up two of my sports after this year, but in the end I just could not see myself giving up the sport of baseball."
He certainly would have had college opportunities in football and basketball as well. On the gridiron, he was a two-year starter for head coach Louis Brown, earning First Team All-Conference as a junior and senior. He added WFCA All-State recognition as a senior when he also took home the Dave Krieg Award as the top senior quarterback in the state as presented by WisSports.net. He threw for 5,224 yards and 56 touchdowns in his career at Franklin, helping the Sabers to a state runner-up finish in 2016.
On the hardwood he helped Franklin to a Southeast Conference championship as a senior, earning First Team all-league recognition for a second straight year to go along with WBCA All-State honors. He finished his career with 1,373 points, becoming the fourth player in program history to eclipse the 1000-point plateau.
Alba was off to a hot start in his first year on the Franklin varsity baseball team, hitting .404 with a 1.147 OPS and 22 RBI through 17 games. Unfortunately he underwent elbow surgery in mid-June and faces a lengthy recovery before joining the North Carolina squad.
Like all multi-sport athletes, Alba saw many positives from his involvement in several teams.
"My favorite part of playing three sports is that I get to compete in different environments constantly throughout the year," he said. "It is not only one repetitive competition year round. It is new ways of competing. I am a competitor and love to win in any sport I play."
There are certainly challenges as well.
"Unlike most of the athletes you are competing against, you are not able to practice the sport year round. Those who do practice the sport year round may have a slight edge on you simply because you spend the rest of the year competing in other sports."
Not only is Alba an elite athlete, he's a tremendous student as well. With a 4.085 GPA, he was a WIAA Scholar-Athlete recipient and named Academic All-State by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.
To view our initial profile of Max as part of our Triple Play Triple Threat Athlete of the Week series, please click here.