Multi-sport athletes are like the Marvel super heroes of college athletics. It seems as though they can pick up a soccer ball and score a goal, or run the quickest 100-yard dash faster you’ve ever seen within a couple seconds of competition. As they seem to complete these feats with ease, we all sit in the stands or alongside on the field and wonder, “How do they do it?”
Multi-sport participation is much more common at the high school level, because student-athletes can go from season to season. However, in many cases, while a recruit is undergoing the college recruiting process, they are forced to choose between sports and become a single-sport athlete. Multi-sport participation at the college level is rare, but not impossible. We asked a Division III student-athlete, who plays both soccer and runs track and field at the college level, a few questions about what it takes to be a multi-sport athlete.
What does a day in the life of a multi-sport athlete look like?
“When I’m in track season, we lift in the mornings from 7 to about 8. From there, I shower and eat breakfast and get coffee. I typically have 1-2 classes in the morning and 1-2 in the afternoon with a break for lunch and a break between. If I have class until 4, I have to be dressed and ready to go to practice straight from class. Similarly, I often fit visits to the training room to ice or heat in between my afternoon classes. Then, I go to practice, sometimes ice or heat, go to the dining hall or make dinner and go to bed. Soccer is similar, but without the lifting in the morning; we tend to lift in the afternoons.”
Do you have an off season?
“No, not really. The summer is kind of my off season, if you will.” says our source. “This is the truth, multi-sport athletes transition from season to season, and do not have much of a breathing period between the end of one season and the beginning of another. Even during the summer, many athletes have lifting and fitness programs to follow, so there really is never an off season.”
How do you manage each sport?
For many student-athletes, time management has become second nature, because they have to be able to balance both their sport and their academics. However, factor in being able to manage your mental health alongside and it becomes a different story. Our source explains, “In a weird way, I feel like soccer helps me manage track and track helps me manage soccer, emotionally. I get really invested in both my sports, so it’s good to have something else to focus on when the other ends. By the end of each season, I hope to be about ready for my other sport.”
What does it take to be a multi-sport athlete?
“The main thing is a similar love of each sport. Though I love soccer and track for very different reasons, I couldn’t do both if I loved one far more than another. I’d also say it requires a great deal of preparation that I might not have to do if I weren’t a multi-sport athlete.” Being a multi-sport athlete implies a level of preparation that is beyond that of their fellow teammates. They have to be mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared for their upcoming season.
What are some trials that multi-sport athletes encounter?
“I think one common issue multi-sport athletes face is navigating the relationship between both sets of coaches. Each has their own expectations disappointing one is just as bad as disappointing the other. In my particular case, both coaches support me in my two sport endeavor, but not everyone gets so lucky,” our source explains. During the recruiting process, some recruits that want to play multiple sports in college may or may not encounter coaches that are reluctant to let them continue their careers as multi-sport athletes. Some college coaches want players that are going to be dedicated to their programs, and only their programs.
What do you think are the benefits to being a multi-sport athlete?
“Learning to manage your time is a big one because that’s a skill that’s super useful in life outside of athletics. Personally, I find the structure that comes with being a multi-sport athlete to be extremely beneficial when it comes to getting my academic work done. Knowing I have practice every day from 4:40-6:40 in addition to the many other commitments that come with being a student-athlete, I’m forced to get my work done in a timely manner.”
No matter whether you are playing one sport, or multiple sports at the collegiate level, being a student-athlete implies a certain level of dedication, tenacity, and commitment, which often remains unmatched by others. By participating in college athletics, one receives invaluable knowledge and experiences that will stay with them for the entirety of their life.
* Originally published on August 17, 2017, by Madison Kimball