When it comes to school colors, Watts Erb has more options than anyone.

Of course, No. 1 is the maroon and white of Palisade High School.

The Palisade student-athlete just finished his junior season for the Bulldogs where he was the starting forward for the basketball team. The 6-foot-3 Erb had quite the season last winter, averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds per game.

The Bulldogs went 16-8 and had a heartbreaking, last-second loss in the playoffs.

But when it comes to Erb's athletic career, he also has Central red and white and Grand Junction orange and black in his closet.

"People at Palisade get pretty confused when I wear my Junction lacrosse uniform to school, or Central tennis," he said with a smile. "Most people know Palisade doesn't have tennis or lacrosse, so they understand."

Three-sport athletes might not be as plentiful as they once were, and this year there were 68 from the four District 51 schools. But a three-sport athlete who plays for three different schools — that's very rare.

"I think it's awesome, I get to see people all across the valley, plus I see them in my other sports and go against them," Erb said, then smiled again. "It's a lot more fun to play with them than against them."

Last fall, Erb played on the Central tennis team at No. 1 singles, then returned to Palisade to shoot jumpers, drive the lane and play defense on the basketball court. This spring, he wrapped up his third season on the Tigers' lacrosse team, helping Grand Junction qualify for its first-ever playoff game.

Tennis is his newest sport and probably ranks No. 3, since it was kind of a fluke he even took up the sport.

He had never even picked up a racket before when he stopped by Canyon View Park to watch a Palisade friend play. That's when the Central coach spotted him and invited him to play.

"I was like, "I got nothing better to do,' so I played," he said.

In 2017, he won a match at No. 2 singles at regionals, but last fall, playing at No. 1 singles was a lot tougher. He did find a little solace in his season in the fact that the player he lost to in the first round of regionals went on to win the state title.

With Palisade playing in a lower classification in basketball, Erb doesn't get to play Central or Grand Junction except in some early season nonleague matchups.

Erb said it's fun to play the other area schools but most of Bulldogs' rivalries are outside of the area.

The heated rivalry games is one of the things Erb loves about playing for Grand Junction lacrosse — the two games the Tigers have with Fruita Monument every year are intense.

"It's a bigger rivalry than we have with teams at Palisade because they are such bigger schools, and there's always been that Junction-Fruita rivalry," he said.

The highlight of Erb's entire junior sports year might have come on the lacrosse field when the Tigers beat the Wildcats twice.

"I've never been so excited to win a game in any sport than when we beat Fruita this year," he said.

Erb has been playing lacrosse for nine years, and he enjoys the fun team environment of the sport.

"It's the people," he said. "I love playing for the team, there's not a more fun group of kids than we've had this year."

That includes a group of Palisade student-athletes like Josh Newhouse, and football players Jason Bruce and Joe Alejo.

It's also rare to see an athlete play three pretty different sports, especially when it comes to contact.

"It's definitely a change. It goes in steps," he said. "Tennis is no contact, then basketball has a little bit, then lacrosse has contact, so it builds over the year."

But basketball remains solidly in the top spot for Erb.

Erb said it's "amazing" to be an athlete at three different schools.

"I've been going to practice, and I see people coming out of school (at Central), and they'll wave at me, it's pretty fun," he said. "Sometimes Palisade people will come out to tennis and cheer for me."

Playing three sports at three schools is the most fun experience he can imagine.

"It gives me a really different perspective on people and the community as a whole" he said. "I get to see so many different people and games."

It also makes for a colorful high-school athletic career — in more ways than one.

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