by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor
Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union
Playing one sport at the collegiate level is hard enough, try playing two. For an athlete just training for one sport takes up a lot of their time. They are constantly putting in the time and effort to be great at one thing.
As an athlete finishes up one season they normally take a break. As a two-sport athlete, they are going from one right to the other without a break. It could take a toll on the body if the athlete doesn’t get a lot of rest.
But, that might be the only down fall of playing two sports in college. For a lot of athletes that enter college they come from playing multiple sports in high school. They are usually the best, or one of the best, athletes in the school.
So when stepping up in level, it’s just the same type of practice and routine just like high school.
For Medialle College soccer and basketball player Amanda Arnold playing more than one sport in college was a no brainer. When looking at her option for school, Arnold knew she wanted to continue to play both soccer and hoops at the next level.
“All throughout high school I was a three sport athlete (volleyball, basketball, and soccer). I knew that I wanted to play both soccer and basketball at the higher level, so it was really important for me to find a college that allowed me to play both,” explained Arnold. “Being able to play both all throughout my time at Medaille was one of the greatest experiences. It was so much fun being able to bond with teammates during practices, bus rides, overnights, and even team bonding. Through these sports I have been able to create friendships with people I would have never met otherwise; and a lot of these friendships are lifelong.”
Arnold’s transition from one sport to another is not easy. There is zero rest time after the soccer season as basketball starts right up. Some athletes will play a fall and spring sport, but not Arnold.
She pushed herself for all four years going form one sport to another with no much of a break. She went from soccer practices to an entirely different kind of practice with basketball. That’s what made it unique and fun.
Each season always kept Arnold on her toes.
“It was definitely different going from one season to the next. The practices are different and the overall atmosphere is not the same,” stated Arnold. “I think it was easy to turn off soccer mode and jump into basketball mode because by the end of soccer season I was excited to start basketball and practice with my teammates again.”
While playing both sports, there is one thing that was for certain from the very beginning, and that was Arnold was a leader from the start.
Thrown into the center back role as a freshman, Arnold had a lot of pressure on her to lead the team from the back. She was asked to lead a young group of girls as freshman, and that boded well for her.
Being able to play right away gave her confidence that she could play at the collegiate level. While there was some missteps along the way, being able to get that early game time was only a plus.
“As a freshman I was thrown into the center back position, which is not a position that I was used to playing. Very quickly I had to learn a new role and become more vocal than I had been in the past,” stated Arnold. “Throughout my four years, the back line changed many different times, but with each line, communication and trust was key. You have to trust your keeper and your teammates in many different situations. Also, in practice we focus a lot on defensive shape, communication, and defending one on one. I think that what coach Angela and coach Alyssa are building is getting stronger each year and pretty soon Medaille will be one of the top in the conference.”
As Arnold stated communication is key to having a good defense. She had to learn on the fly considering that she never played the position before. Here Arnold was playing college soccer and she was playing a different position, learning on the fly.
She also had to be more vocal on the field, and give out the commands to make sure everyone was in the right position.
“Due to our numbers on the soccer team, I was thrown into a leadership position early on, being named captain my sophomore season. Because of this, I had to step up and improve my leadership skills on and off of the field. I had to become the player that would talk constantly during practices and games, and push my teammates to do the same,” stated Arnold. “This definitely helped me become more vocal on the basketball court as well because I had become accustomed to it during soccer. I think it also prepared me for when I was named captain of the basketball team my junior year. Being able to have the experience of being a captain for two soccer seasons showed me how to properly show an example, communicate, and be a good leader.”
On the court, Arnold had to find her way. She was already used to be a leader on the pitch, being named captain as a sophomore. On the court it was a little bit different. Arnold didn’t need to be the one to take control right away.
She was able to ease into her role on the basketball team. As the seasons went on, Arnold felt more comfortable, and it showed. Each yeah her points per game went up - and so did her confidence as she was named a captain during her junior campaign.
“My freshman year I was definitely nervous coming into the team because there were so many upperclassmen and I was not sure I would be able to play as well as them. In the beginning of the season, due to an injury, I had to start a few games at the point guard position. I was definitely nervous and did not think I was ready. Although I made some mistakes, I learned a lot from being put in this position and I definitely gained some confidence from it,” stated Arnold. “My sophomore year I was placed into a new role, playing more shooting guard than point guard. By my junior and senior seasons, I had become an essential player to the team, playing almost 40 minutes every game. I had to constantly change and adapt to new roles and positions both seasons. For example, because of our low numbers my senior year, I would mostly play the 4 (power forward). However, I would also play the point guard, shooting guard, or small forward depending on the players we had on the court at the time. I think this helped me greatly grow my confidence by the end of my senior year, because I had a better understanding of each position and their specific roles on the court.”
It has been a great four-year run for Arnold, but now it is coming to an end. After all of those years playing at a high level, her run as an athlete is coming to an end. It will be difficult in the beginning.
After all, Arnold is used to getting up early for some kind of practice. She has played the sport, or sports, that she has loved since she was a little girl. Those early morning practices, those early morning games will be a thing of the best.
Arnold freely admits that will take some time getting used to. She knows that the transition from athlete to adult will take some time getting used to.
“I think the hardest part mentally will be not having that escape from reality every day. No matter what was going on in my life, I was able to look forward to going to practice or having a game to take my mind off of everything for those few hours. Now I can join adult leagues or get some friends together to pass or shoot around, but it will just not be the same,” said Arnold. “I think the toughest thing about not playing anymore is not getting to see my teammates every day and creating those lifelong memories. The friendships I have created are irreplaceable and it will be difficult not getting to see them every day. I will also miss game days and everything that goes into them; the butterflies, the game day rituals, the locker room atmosphere, putting together everything we have been practicing, and getting to play in front of friends and family.”