Posted April 27, 2016
Whether athletes, especially young ones, should specialize in one sport or compete in many remains open to debate. On university campuses such as UW-River Falls, most student athletes specialize, but a handful compete in more than one sport.
The most common dual-sport combination is football with track and field, because football is a fall sport and track and field is during the spring.
UWRF sophomore Tim Rixmann takes on both sports because he was a four-sport athlete in high school.
“I just like to compete,” Rixmann said. “I’m really competitive. I just want to be as big of an athlete as I can, so for me, that’s being in as many sports as I can.”
Rixmann competes in a variety of track and field events and also is a defensive back for the football team. For him, that experience can be summed up by looking at his schedule.
“I’m never out of season,” he said.
Junior Benji McRoberts used to also compete in both sports, but only does track and field now due to injuries. McRoberts echoed Rixmann’s explanation of the schedule for a dual-sport athlete, and viewed it as a positive.
“I love being productive and busy, and when you’re a multi-sport athlete you’re forced to be both of those,” McRoberts said.
For McRoberts, the biggest challenge was the strength and conditioning aspect for both sports. Athletes are trying to get their bodies to peak condition for track and field, he said, whereas in football they’re trying to maintain the work they put in during off-season. However, football’s “off-season” happens during track and field season, providing a difficult overlap.
“The strength and conditioning aspect of being a multi-sport athlete is complex,” he said. “I don’t want to call it impossible, but it’s definitely something everybody could learn a little bit on.”
That’s not the only challenge.
“I feel like I don’t get as close of a bond with the team, and then during the summer I always have to catch up on what the football team learned while I was in track season,” Rixmann said. “So I’m always playing catch up.”
Despite the challenges faced by dual-sport athletes, there are rewards. McRoberts found his time as a dual-sport athlete beneficial and said sometimes he misses it.
“From the amount of fun you’re going to have just doing the two sports, if that’s not beneficial enough, it’s all the support you’re going to get from your teammates (and) your coaches, because they want you to have the best life after all the sports your in,” he said.
Both McRoberts and Rixmann also said they would highly recommend the lifestyle to other interested future student athletes.
“I would say give it a try,” Rixmann said. “The worst thing that’s going to happen is you’ll have too much on your plate, you can’t handle it, and you’ll just have to take a step back. But, if you don’t try you’re just going to have regret.”
For him, avoiding the idea of regret is a big reason why he continues with his busy schedule.
“I don’t want to regret anything,” he said. “I want to do as much as I possibly can. I’d rather do too much than not enough.”