by: Legend Boyesen Hayes
Doing any sport at the college level is an awesome achievement by itself. According to NCAA statistics as of March of 2018, out of about 7,300,000 high school athletes there was roughly 492,000 athletes who moved on to the NCAA level. That creates about a 6% chance to compete past high school with all sports considered both male and female. Specifically with football, it’s 6.9% and for men’s track & field 4.8%. With that being said, the probability of being a college athlete is very rare and considering just those numbers, it is extremely rare to do two sports at the collegiate level. If your thinking of being a collegiate athlete you’ll need a sufficient program to follow to make sure your on point.
My journey as a wide receiver and discus thrower at Christopher Newport University, a DIII school in Virginia, was the most difficult thing I’ve ever accomplished and it was all possible because of three main things. I loved both football and track & field unconditionally, I was gifted physically enough to be competitive within both sports, and I constantly made the decision to grow emotionally and psychologically from all the stressors brought with being a two sport athlete. These are, in my modest opinion, the most fundamental parts necessary for choosing to do multiple sports at the college level. In high school it can be easy to get away with doing multiple sports, it might even be healthier to do multiple sports for a lot of kids so they can stay busy. But when you hit college, things aren’t as simple any more. The responsibilities and pressure can be brutal and, it's a time for many to find out who they really are and make their first independent decisions about who they want to be. Because of this pressure, many people don't even stick with their original decisions before college.
When I was a freshman at Christopher Newport University I joined the football team with a total of 50 other freshman that got on roster.That didn't include the many others that quit the first couple weeks during camp. By the end of my senior year I was one of less than 25 seniors, and that was considered one of the largest classes to come through. A less than 50% continuation rate. Of those seniors that went through only two of them were dual athletes with me being one of them. So with that being said, the probability of even sticking through all four years with one sport is uncertain let alone two. The harsh reality is that there is a very low probability to make it all years of eligibility doing two sports successfully.
Also, an important requisite for my coaches on both sides was staying competitive within both sports. I had to develop a solid stream of communication between both sides to make sure that i was keeping up with both standards. There were times where i had to wake up early in the morning for football and still practice and lift for track in the afternoon in the same day. The physical toll was intense at times and I ended up pulling a hamstring pretty good my freshman year. I was told very clearly that if I didn’t put in my part on the field I would have to make the decision to stay or leave. It seemed unfair at times to have to literally be both a football player and a discus thrower at the same time but, it was something I committed to and it made me mentally stronger every time.
I’ll admit I had many nights where I laid in bed questioning whether all this was worth it but, every time i chose to keep grinding and follow my dream of becoming a dual All-American and National Champion. I fell short but still ended up getting one All-American honors and a National Runner-Up finish in Track & Field while getting my start as a wide receiver my Senior year. I attribute the mental and psychological strength as my saving grace and true gift from going through this path. I don’t want to discourage those who feel that they are mentally or emotionally not up to par but, realize that everybody goes through struggles at some point. It's just that the dual athlete life will demand more out of you than your teammates on either side.
Are there any benefits of being a dual athlete?
As far as my experience goes, one benefit is the ability to be a more valuable athlete coming out of high school for college. The athlete who can make an impact in two sports has double the coaching effort to bring them on board to the school and it can be a great tool to earn more financial benefits. Additionally, you become very good at time management. Having to keep up with the college lifestyle and sports is a good comparison to how adult life can get after college. A skill that will be beneficial no matter where you are in life. Plus doing double the sports means double the experience. I’ve had the opportunity to travel and compete way more than the average college athlete.
It’s not a road for just anybody. Had I made the choice and decided to specialize in either football or track I most likely would’ve been even more successful at whichever I chose. So when people ask if it's worth it I generally say no, most people are too soft. But the honor of going through that journey and forging character within myself has helped me achieved incredible feats that i am forever grateful for and wouldn’t trade for anything. So if you’re a talented kid who’s thinking about doing two sports in college ask yourself if you could live without doing one of the sports. If the answer is no… then go ahead. If there’s hesitation, do yourself a favor and make the tough decision and decide which one you enjoy more.