Multi-sport athletes show they’re game

Norwich University student-athletes face multiple hardships during their time on campus as they try to balance their academic and athletic responsibilities. But some choose an even harder path, participating in two sports in an academic year. Although they admit it can be a struggle, these two-sport players have been able to thrive and succeed despite the pressures of this lifestyle.

A few different athletics programs share athletes with one another, both on the men’s side and the women’s side, although the total number of twosport athletes at Norwich on the women’s programs heavily outweigh those on men’s teams.

Norwich athletics goes through three seasons: a fall season, a winter season, and a spring season. About five to eight different teams are underway per season, and a student-athlete can participate on at least one team each season.

Athletically, a major problem for twosport athletes comes when seasons overlap. Head Norwich women’s volleyball coach Ashlynn Nuckols, who currently coaches two two-sport athletes, noted that “when you cross over seasons, you can tell the difference between (people) when it’s just one sport and two sports at that time.”

Seasons can sometimes overlap for just a few days, or for as long as a month. If a student is playing for a team in the fall season and a team for the winter season, or a team in the winter and a team in the spring, issues may gradually arise.

This overlapping period can result in student-athletes either missing practice for one of those teams, or partaking in two practices a day, one for each team.

“The hardest struggle for me was the transfer over from volleyball to basketball,” said Rebecca Finley, an 18-year old freshman psychology and criminal justice double major who plays women’s basketball and volleyball. “Towards the end of volleyball, it was already three weeks into basketball season. I was doing double practices every day, and trying to keep up with all my school work.”

These student-athletes face a handful of challenges throughout the academic year: their academics are at the forefront, but some are also enrolled in the Corps of Cadets.

“The Corps takes up a lot of my time,” Finley said. “It puts on a lot of added stress on you, especially being a freshman going through rookdom.”

Other students, meanwhile, maintain other responsibilities. Teresa Segreti, a 22-year old senior athletic training major from Salisbury Mills, N.Y., who plays women’s hockey and women’s lacrosse, is also a member of the Vermont Guard.

“It’s definitely challenging trying to make it to every practice or game,” Segreti said. “Between drill weekends, school, and balancing two practice schedules, it’s sometimes hard to pick and choose because I can only be in one place at a time.” Like Finley, Segreti also faces the challenge of doing double practices; women’s hockey runs during the winter season, while women’s lacrosse is held during the spring season.

“A disadvantage is the fatigue. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired,” Segreti said. “Especially on days where I happen to be able to make both lacrosse and hockey practice, and I’m running from one practice to the next.” B o t h coaches and student-athletes have seen an advantage in playing two or more sports in college, however. Firstyear men’s and women’s swimming and diving head coach Jay Schotter said that these athletes “might have ideas of leadership and team morale and how they’ve faced struggles with other teams,” adding that is something he always looks for in these student-athletes.

Nuckols agreed with Schotter, saying that these student-athletes “grew up in these sports, so they understand the team dynamics of each team.”

Another advantage for two-sport athletes is the ability to regularly stay fit and in shape, and, as Schotter pointed out, “they’re able to come in and have the attitude of cross-training.”

“When one season is over, the other starts and they overlap for a month or so,” Segreti agreed“So I’m constantly working different muscle groups and staying conditioned and in shape.”

Ultimately, these student-athletes have shared mixed experiences and results in their time at Norwich University. “I have seen a wide variety. I’ve seen some get overwhelmed, burn out, and quit both sports, while barely maintaining their academic standing,” said Emily Oliver, a 21- year old junior mechanical engineering and pre-med double major from Sagamore Hills, Ohio. “I’ve seen others do extremely well, enjoy their time with their team, and cherish their free time.”

Along with being a double major, Oliver is currently the only three-sport athlete at Norwich University. Oliver was the team captain for the women’s volleyball program this past year, is a starting guard for the women’s basketball team, and is one of the premier pitchers for the softball program.

With being a three-sport athlete, Oliver has undergone some of the same challenges that two-sport athletes have experienced, but to a further extreme. Oliver noted that, although she has been able to form special bonds with three different teams, she may not meet people if they either are not on one of her teams or in one of her classes. Although being a two-sport athlete adds an immense amount of stress onto an already exhausting schedule, those who decide to participate in multiple sports do it for meaningful purposes. “Playing two sports is a choice we make. It would be easy to only play one sport and balance everything, so I believe we have a certain drive and enjoy the challenge,” Segreti said. “I’d like to think we all love athletics and love to compete, so overall our experience is positive.”

Oliver provided key advice to those who play two or more sports, or to those who might be interested in pursuing the hectic lifestyle of a two-sport competitor.

“Prioritize your responsibilities. Academics come before anything, that’s what you’re here to do. Teammates come second, you have a responsibility to them to show up in your fullest form, you spend more time with them than you do with your friends during season,” Oliver said.

Oliver has enjoyed distinct success at Norwich University, despite facing the challenges and hardships of double majoring and extensively playing three different sports. She has been named to the Dean’s List every semester at Norwich.

“Finally, you have a responsibility to yourself,” Oliver said. “Make sure you’re still enjoying what you’re doing, and you have time for yourself.”

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