The life of a college athlete allows very little time for relaxation. These athletes constantly bounce around from class to practice and have to devote much of their other time to studying. For Ithaca College junior Kaylou Stoddard, this commitment is doubled, as she is a member of both the field hockey team and the women’s lacrosse team.
In high school, it is common for athletes to play two or three sports in a year. In college athletics, however, not only is the competition tougher, the commitment can overlap seasons.
Will Rothermel, associate athletic director of compliance, facilities and events, said not including cross-country and track and field, there were only five two-sport athletes in the 2016–2017 academic year.
While Stoddard is helping the field hockey team be as successful as possible, she is also expected to attend preseason training with the lacrosse team. This means that she will have to attend practice twice a day, while her respective teammates will only have to attend once per day.
“It is actually easier for me because it is both fall and spring, so I have a constant schedule throughout the year,” Stoddard said. “It causes my schedule to be high stress, which keeps me focused and not waste time.”
In high school, she was a three-sport athlete with basketball included in her routine. However, field hockey and lacrosse were too close to her heart for her to specialize in just one. She had been around both sports for a while, as she started playing field hockey in middle school and lacrosse in high school. While many athletes will have to make the tough decision of choosing one favorite, Stoddard decided to stretch her limits and pursue both.
When Stoddard was in the recruitment process, she said that she made sure the coaches were fine with her playing both sports.
“Almost every coach I met with told me that I would end up picking one to focus on, but I’m still waiting for that to happen,” Stoddard said. “Although neither of my current coaches are the ones who recruited me, they are both 100 percent for me playing two sports, which makes my life easier.”
Field hockey head coach Kaitlyn Wahila said players like Stoddard have made the transition to being head coach at the college easier.
“I believe being a dual-sport athlete has helped her confidence with field hockey, as she has double the experience at the collegiate level as her teammates,” Wahila said.
Stoddard is a midfielder and back in field hockey and a defender for the lacrosse team. She said being on the defensive side of the ball on both teams allows her to make connections that a one-sport athlete may not think of. Stoddard also said she can notice tendencies that appear in both lacrosse and field hockey and anticipate what the opposing offense may do when they attempt to head into Bomber territory.
“Kaylou is a large component of our defensive unit,” senior lacrosse captain Molly Long said. “She also brings a different perspective to the team when she connects certain things we do in lacrosse to field hockey.”
In the 2016 field hockey season, Stoddard started in nine games, had one shot and played for 598 total minutes. So far in the 2017 season, she has started in five games totaling 333 minutes play time.
In the 2017 lacrosse season, she played in eight games and had one ground ball.
Senior field hockey captain Amanda Schell said that Stoddard is a great athlete and is 100 percent committed to both teams.
“She comes to play every day, and you can tell she just loves to compete,” Schell said. “She has shined this year in our backfield, more than other years. She has really stepped up to fill big shoes missing from our past defensive players.”
While Stoddard said she wouldn’t have it any other way, being a two-sport athlete does have its challenges.
“The biggest challenge is actually the offseason,” Stoddard said. “Right now, I am with the field hockey team, but the lacrosse team is having fall ball. It is difficult to catch up because I miss some events in the fall, and I also don’t get to fully meet the new freshman on the team until we begin winter workouts.”
While her absences to fall events are expected, Bombers’ lacrosse head coach Karrie Moore said she is grateful when Stoddard is able to make it to practice and understands that her attendance is dependent upon what the field hockey team will allow.
“Generally, everyone has a lot going on, even more when they play two sports,” Moore said. “She does her best to get to as many fall events as possible, which I really appreciate. Kaylou also works very hard in each practice, which sets a good example for her teammates.”
Her taste of success with the women’s lacrosse program has influenced the field hockey team, and she brings high expectations with her when she returns to the Bombers every fall.
“She brings a positive and competitive mindset because of the lacrosse team’s success,” Wahila said. “She holds her team to a high level of success, and as a coach, I really appreciate it.”
While playing two sports is not very common, Stoddard is proving that it is possible to do so if someone is talented, committed and works hard.
“Playing two sports has opened me up to a large group of friends and teammates who all support me,” Stoddard said. “It has been a great experience.”