Senior women’s basketball player Allie Smith is also one of the goalkeepers for the women’s soccer team.
“It’s been great being involved in two sports because it allows me to be more involved in athletics as well as learn from both teams and coaching staffs,” Smith says. “Coach Lynch and Coach Cohen have completely different styles of coaching that deals with their sport well. Soccer has a more conceptual approach to game-like situations where basketball is where you’re able to execute the specific game-time situations in practice.”
Smith is one of several student-athletes who have previously, or will soon be, competing in multiple sports. For example, a soccer player and two football players are part of the track and field team.
Due to NCAA rules, Smith cannot exceed 20 weekly hours for athletics for both sports.
“It takes a lot of communication between staffs and myself to schedule my time in the most efficient way,” says Smith.
Using a planner and desk calendar, Smith says she sometimes plans her week out in advance. She says her desk calendar includes her athletic schedule and major assignment deadlines.
“The athletics aspect isn’t as difficult to manage because we are told times to not schedule class for, but making time for school work is challenging,” she says. “By scheduling my week out in advance I know the times I have to focus and get work done because assignments are due.”
Her head coach for women’s basketball, Kate Lynch, says this is the team’s first experience with a student-athlete participating in more than one sport.
“We have to make sure that the coaching staffs are all on the same page so Allie is taken care of in the best regard,” she says. “Basketball [is] a unique sport in terms of being one of the longer sports. We start practicing the Tuesday after Labor Day and go all the way through May 1. We have preseason then the season and then we also have a post-season workout.”
Lynch says she sat down with women’s soccer to make the schedule works out best for both teams. She says they make sure that for the sake of Smith’s physicality and mentality that she receives appropriate break and care time.
“She was a great soccer player in high school but she chose to focus on basketball,” Lynch says. “It takes a special student-athlete to juggle both.”
Freshman men’s soccer player Aren Seeger is part of the track and field team. Football student-athletes Mekhi Barnett, Jaylynn Cundiff and Harrison Smith are also part of the track and field team.
“My recruiting process was kind of different. I was recruited for track,” says freshman Jaylynn Cundiff, who spent his fall on the football team.
Harrison Smith, another freshman, says he was recruited for both sports. Harrison Smith says when he initially came to visit the campus he met with coaching staff from both teams.
They said they have both been playing both sports since they were kids so they are not envisioning any issues between sharing time for both.
Offensive Coordinator Chris Bergeski says he has a “really close” relationship with Harrison Smith because he was the one who recruited him.
“He was such a versatile player,” says Bergeski. “He did everything in track, he did everything in football … from our end he was able to play either side of the ball but he was one of the top hurdlers in Massachusetts.”
Bergeski thinks Harrison Smith, Cundiff and Barnett will really be able to work together and the two of them will really understand how hard they need to work with both sports.
“We have to get athletes into track and field shape,” says John Wallin, head coach of the men’s track and field team. “It’s going to be an adjustment in the beginning. All the athletes are coming over from their specific sport’s shape but they’re all really good athletes so it doesn’t take long to adapt.”
Wallin says, though, that the football players will have to make sure that they are healthy because “they usually get pretty banged up by the end of the season.”
As for Seeger, who plays in goal for men’s soccer, Wallin believes he will not need much of an adjustment.
“Two of the athletes coming over are hurdlers, one will throw and the other one will compete in the long jump and sprinting events,” says Wallin.
“This will be Mekhi’s second year doing two sports,” says Wallin, “but then it’ll be everybody else’s first year. We had Alex Brown from soccer in the past and it worked out pretty well but he’s graduated now.”
Wallin also says all the coaches communicate a lot to stay on top of all the student-athletes during their respective sports.
“We have conversations every week during their season and then they’ll check in during our seasons to see how they’re doing,” he says.
By Matt Gad