Balancing the Fun and Business of Being a Multi-Sport College Athlete
With most college athletes, playing multiple sports in high school is more common than not. Participating in more than one sport at the high school level is a bonus to college coaches who are recruiting a specific athlete. Typically, those who excel at more than one sport showcase a certain level of athleticism along with a desire to compete and work hard. However, in most cases, there comes a time when those who are fortunate enough to play a sport at the college level must decide on what sport to pursue. The primary factor for most of these multisport athletes is finding a school that fits them best. Some choose the school that is giving them the most scholarship money. Some choose the school with the best academics. Some choose a school that is close to home.
One student-athlete who saw success at more than one sport in high school was Whitesboro High School graduate (Section III), Pat Galer. During his time at Whitesboro, Galer exceled at football and baseball. Galer now attends St. John Fisher College, a Division III school in Rochester, New York. He was one of those student-athletes considering playing two sports in college. Playing football and baseball in college, Galer knows firsthand how challenging it is.
“I find it very important to plan ahead and take care of academic requirements first. With several practices a week, road trips and rescheduled games, time management plays a crucial role in being a two-sport athlete,” said Galer.
Someone who can attest to that statement is St. John Fisher’s Head Baseball Coach Brandon Potter and St. John Fisher’s Assistant Football Coach Rob Kramer who have coached Galer for two seasons. “Competitive, focused and dual sport student-athletes seem to have a great handle on time management, which is often the biggest challenge for student-athletes in college,” said Potter.
“The benefit is you get an outstanding athlete that can usually manage both. We are very specific in who we allow to do both because not every athlete can do it,” said Kramer.
Along with time management skills, Galer believes being coachable is another crucial trait to being successful at the college level. “You are going to be receiving input from many different coaches while being a multi-sport athlete and you need to be able to take that criticism and use it to the best of your ability. You must be a devoted person who is willing to sacrifice free time in order to be all in for both sports. When you are slacking off you are only hurting your teammates.
Galer’s experience can certainly be an asset to share with high school athletes considering the same. “I would tell an individual in high school who was on the fence about playing two sports in college to take the opportunity that is granted to you and play both sports. Not many individuals can say they have played a college sport let alone being a two-sport athlete,” said Galer.
McQuaid Jesuit High School 2019 graduate (Section V), Hunter Walsh will be taking a similar path as Pat Galer. Walsh will be attending St. John Fisher College in the Fall and will be playing both football and baseball. Walsh just recently was a key part to the team’s Class AA Baseball State Championship. He threw a no-hitter in the state final to lead the Knights to a 5-0 win over Shenendehowa (Section II).
When asked how the recruiting process went for both sports, Walsh was able to give some insight. “St. John Fisher has been there from day one. Ever since I was a sophomore Coach Kramer and Coach Vosburgh had a high interest in me coming to play football for them. Over the next couple years, the interest grew, and our relationship grew closer. They were the ones coming out to games,” stated Walsh.
“Realizing late this year that I would also be able to play baseball, it made this choice the best of both worlds for me as I would not be able to do this anywhere else. Coach Potter and Coach Paolini came in contact with me right before the baseball season began. Nobody, not even myself considered playing baseball at the time, but after an unbelievable season I realized I could provide a great talent to the team,” said Walsh.
Even though there are benefits to coaching a multi-sport athlete, it can come with some drawbacks. Coach Kramer and Coach Potter were able to talk about their experiences. “Having a multi-sport athlete on our team is definitely a challenge. In the recruiting process we make it very clear that it is difficult to manage multiple sports especially with the impact that our non-traditional seasons have on development and team camaraderie. We let the student-athlete know it is very different than high school as training for a specific sport in college is a yearlong process not a seasonal “pick up the ball” type thing,” said Kramer. “Challenging, fun and anxious. Challenging, due to the balance of both sports and we miss that student-athlete for fall ball where we teach more and instruct. Fun, because I enjoy watching them compete for St. John Fisher College in other ways than just us and seeing them be successful and another sport is exciting and a ton of fun to watch. Anxious, as we want them to be healthy when they get to us,” said Potter.
Both Coach Kramer and Coach Potter were asked if they would recruit another multisport athlete.
“As we recruit, we try to refrain from it as the sports respectfully have become much more demanding not only in season, but the off-season training is pivotal in the growth of them as players. It is difficult to say if we would do it again, but the situation must be right for it to work,” said Kramer.
“Absolutely, we respect a student-athlete that wants to go out and compete, we want competitors and student-athletes willing to go and challenge themselves and aren’t afraid to fail,” said Potter.
Like most opportunities in life, the right choice is usually based off the positives outweighing the negatives. For Pat Galer and Hunter Walsh, having the opportunity to play both of their sports at the next level is something they couldn’t pass up. Not many are willing to sacrifice their free time or granted the opportunity to do what Pat and Hunter are doing. At the end of the day, if you are a multisport athlete in high school who doesn’t want to give up one of your sports, it is possible to find a school that is the right fit for you.
Two sport collegiate athlete Pat Galer in action for the St. John Fisher Cardinals
Two sport high school athlete Hunter Walsh in action for McQuaid Jesuit High School (Section V)