With early morning football training and late night track practices draining his energy and 30 hours of his week, junior fullback and thrower Christian Stremmel has overcome the challenges of being a two sport athlete to become the ideal contributor and athlete.
Offensive coordinator Ryan Heasley said Stremmel may not be the only two sport athlete on campus, but he has something that sets him apart from the rest.
“It takes a special individual to balance everything that he has going on,” Heasley said. “He’s the type of guy who always wants to get better, always asking questions and always trying to improve, and as a coach, that’s what you want from your athletes.”
Stremmel entered Ithaca College having excelled in both track and field, where he received state honors, and football at Lower Dauphin High School in Hummelstown, Pa.
With the intention of playing football for the college, he gave up track because he knew the commitment to football would be difficult enough with the transition to college. He tried out for the team and made it, playing both his freshman and sophomore year as a fullback for the Bombers.
After being pleased with his football performance, Stremmel decided he missed throwing and did not want the next two years without it. Going into his junior year, he decided to take on both.
Stremmel joined the South Hill track and field squad during the Winter 2013 season and picked up throwing again right away. While he has enjoyed this experience and it has brought new friendships for him, Stremmel said that the physical strain of two-a-days and the mental focus needed to push through these practices each week creates high stress on him.
“The level of competition and the difficulty of the workouts is much harder than high school, but it’s definitely fulfilling to be part of both teams,” he said. “The hardest part mentally is being able to focus on both sports and compete at a high level.”
Despite his doubts, thus far in the season, Stremmel leads the Bombers in the shot put and hammer throw by more than a meter in each event. He also leads the team in discus by 3.66 meters.
Senior Captain Alec Svoboda said even after spending two years away from the track and now training in two sports at once, Stremmel has not missed a stride and has proven he is a worthy athlete.
“When he first came in, I knew he was primarily a football player, so I didn’t really expect much from him,” Svoboda said. “But he’s really dedicated, puts a lot of time into it, and right now, he’s the best thrower we have on the team.”
Sophomore thrower Josh Bray said in addition to his contribution of points, Stremmel has also become an important member of the thrower family by offering support to his teammates, even with the little time he has to spend with them outside of practice.
“He is a really great teammate to have around,” Bray said. “We have become really close this year, and he’s become an important part of the team, both as a thrower and as a friend.”
Another struggle for Stremmel is the need to manage both academics and personal time. He said even though it can be hard to cope with limited time, he has learned to deal with the struggle of juggling it all.
“Doing two sports is a big time commitment, and I find it hard sometimes to focus on school work, especially if I were to be behind,” he said. “However, I am finding out now that it keeps me more organized, and I accomplished more goals this semester than previously.”
While the difficulties of training for two sports at once, contributing as a teammate and lacking free time poses challenges, Stremmel said he cannot suppress his motivation to do both sports.
“It’s really about the competition within myself, with my teammates and between competitors from other schools,” he said. “I love competition, because it pushes me to become better and a bigger contributor to both of my teams.