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Senior football players take their talents to the track

From+left%2C+seniors+Anthony+DAddetta+and+Daniel+Hutchinson+are+both+wide+receivers+on+the+football+team.+Since+December+2021%2C+DAddetta+has+been+a+sprinter+for+the+track+and+field+team+while+Hutchinson+is+a+long+and+high+jumper.
NOLAN SAUNDERS
From left, seniors Anthony D’Addetta and Daniel Hutchinson are both wide receivers on the football team. Since December 2021, D’Addetta has been a sprinter for the track and field team while Hutchinson is a long and high jumper.

On Dec. 3, 2022, the Ithaca College football team capped off a season for the books having earned the program’s first undefeated regular season since 1986 as well as its first-ever Liberty League title. For two seniors, however, their time in Bomber threads is not over quite yet.

Senior wide receivers Anthony D’Addetta and Daniel Hutchinson made their debut on the college’s track and field team in December 2021 following the completion of their 8–2 football season in November 2021. D’Addetta, who ended 2022’s historic football season recognized as an All-Liberty League First Team kick returner, competes for the track and field team as a sprinter while Hutchinson has opted to compete in the long and high jump events. 

Hutchinson, who won his season-opening long jump event by nearly a foot on Jan. 21, said that he attributes much of his talent on the track to the mindset that he has developed throughout his football career.

“In football, you have to be mentally tough,” Hutchinson said. “Transitioning that aspect of my game from football to track was something that was able to put me ahead of some of my opponents.”

Jim Nichols, head coach of the men’s track and field team, said D’Addetta and Hutchinson bring an undeniable sense of competition to the team that can be tough to find elsewhere.

“The two of them are constantly growing and are always excited about track and field,” Nichols said. “Joining the team is a change of pace for them compared to football, and they bring so much personality to the team and their events.”

The two athletes continued to rank in their early competitions, with D’Addetta taking fifth place in the 60-meter dash and Hutchinson placing fourth in the high jump and sixth in the long jump during the Nazareth Conference Challenge Cup on Jan. 28.

The track and field team is no stranger to dual-sport athletes. Junior running back Jalen Leonard-Osbourne was the first of the football players to expand his athletic horizons as a sprinter when athletics resumed post-pandemic, later making a name for himself as an NCAA national champion in the 60-meter-dash in March 2022. He was soon followed by D’Addetta and Hutchinson in addition to junior running back Jalen Hines, first-year student wide receiver CJ Jones and sophomore wide receiver Tyrell Penalba. 

Hutchinson said that it was seeing a noticeable shift in his, Leonard-Osbourne’s and D’Addetta’s skills on the football field that inspired many of his teammates to follow suit in joining the track and field team.

“Our athletic ability shot through the roof,” Hutchinson said. “Our speed increased, our jumping ability increased, our level of competition increased. We told our guys that if you want to get faster, go run track and you’ll run by anybody on the football field.”

D’Addetta said that in the same way his work on the track has improved his performance on the football field, his career in football has contributed to his sprinting success as well. 

“All of the strength and conditioning work that we do in football is geared towards making a really powerful athlete,” D’Addetta said. “We need to be big, fast and strong. It translates a lot on the track; I’m so much more explosive off of the blocks than I would be without football training.”

Outside of its benefits, being a dual-sport athlete applies just another element of pressure on student-athletes who already balance their coursework with training for one sport. Hutchinson said that the transition from one athletic season into another can be overwhelming, but the mindset that he and his teammates’ share has helped them deal with the rigor. 

“Your body doesn’t get that much of a break between seasons, but we’ve started to treat the indoor season just as we would winter workouts for football,” Hutchinson said. “If we treat everything like practice, it’s a little easier to get adjusted and get used to everything in the new season.”

Football head coach Michael Toerper said that when he spoke with his athletes about spending their spring with the track and field team, he largely wanted to make sure that they held the right priorities.

“The conversation started with making sure that they can balance academics first,” Toerper said. “It’s a lot to juggle when you’re trying to be at the top of your game in football, at the top of your game in track and then there’s this little thing called ‘school’ as well. I was really supportive of them but, first and foremost, I needed to make sure that everything was right academically.”

Toerper said that although it can take some time management, the opportunity to participate on two collegiate sports teams is a major benefit of the NCAA Division III experience. 

“If you’re going to do multiple sports, you better be really good at both,” Toerper said. “We got guys that are really, really good at both and that’s a big part of what makes our program unique.”

Both Toerper and Nichols added that seeing D’Addetta and Hutchinson return to the track this spring — rather than taking their final semester off to rest — came as no surprise to them.

“These guys are competitors, and this is one last opportunity for them to be college athletes,” Nichols said. “They know that you only have a certain amount of time, a certain amount of eligibility to be able to do something. If they have the time, they’re going to use it.”

Toerper said that the pride of seeing his athletes’ successes off of the football field can be overwhelming and that he looks forward to watching them continue to compete more than anything. 

“They just love being in the moment and performing at their best when the stakes are the highest,” Toerper said. “I’m really proud of the type of people and the type of teammates they are. Seeing them bring all of that growth to the track team has been awesome.”

D’Addetta said that outside of his love for competition, the opportunity to spend some extra time with his teammates is something he would never pass up.

“I think about that last game at North Central [College] a lot,” D’Addetta said. “Seeing the guys on the team and thinking that I kind of don’t want this ride to be over yet. We’re so close as a group and as a unit, so being able to keep this going and play with some of my teammates again is really exciting.”

Hutchinson said that, like D’Addetta, competing this spring is the only way he could have imagined closing out his time as a Bomber.

“Spending time with [D’Addetta] and these guys from the football team just means everything to me,” Hutchinson said. “The pinnacle of my athletic career is being with my guys. Not even necessarily competing and performing well, but just being with them and having that bond is everything.”

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About the Contributors
Tess Ferguson
Tess Ferguson, Former Sports Editor
NOLAN SAUNDERS, Photographer
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