Dual-sport athletes stay focused as pandemic forces changes to college sports

The pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives and college sports are feeling the impact after schedules were forced to change.

In some cases, sports moved to a completely different time of year. Two dual-sport athletes found themselves balancing their sports simultaneously.

"A lot of people doubted me, saying I couldn’t do both and handle school at the same time, especially in a normal year, that’s still difficult. Definitely, what I learned the most was you can always do more than what you’re capable of," said sophomore Ashton Barton, a Pacific Lutheran University baseball and football player.

Barton started as a linebacker on the school’s football team the same week he helped the Lutes baseball team win its season opener.

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"We love dual-sport athletes here at PLU," said PLU baseball head coach, Nolan Soete. 

Soete said dual-sport athletes aren’t necessarily rare, but this year is making the feat more challenging.

"It's a very busy year, academic year in a normal year. In a covid year, where both teams are practicing and playing at the same time, it’s very difficult. There were some days early on he’d be at baseball then go to football at night, so it’s very difficult," he said.

Meanwhile, Lauren Wilson is jumping between track and field and volleyball for the Lutes this spring.

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"I’ve always been busy, ever since high school. I did track in high school. I'm just kind of used to being busy. When you have sports going on, it requires you to do your homework when you have open time. It's going to be hard shifting from volleyball to track meets right away, but, one last year, so I’m ready to do it," said Wilson.

But that's what she did last week, winning the high-jump in PLU's season opener in the morning then registering ten kills and 15 digs in volleyball’s five-set win that night.

"It's two different regimens, but it’s a lucky thing for her it involves jumping. So, in her position in volleyball as an outside hitter she does a lot of jumping and of course as a high jumper that's what you do, so you can cross-train a little bit, be beneficial to both sports," said PLU volleyball head coach Kevin Aoki.

And beneficial for both athletes off the field as well – at least in the long-run.

"Just having it in the back of my mind that I've done tough things. I’ve had to stay up late, wake up early for weights, and then practice and have games, definitely makes me have the mindset there’s no excuses, there’s always time in the day. If you work toward your goals and prioritize things then you’re going to get it done," said Wilson.