Feb. 8, 2008
This feature is one of many that can be read on the Patriot League website throughout the month of February - a month the Patriot League designates to promote and highlight women in sports. The following story appeared in the Patriot League's Women in Sports magazine.
Visit the Patriot League's Celebrating Women in Sports webpage by clicking here. This page was launched last year and has been updated with some new items for 2008. The Celebrating Women in Sports webpage includes eight different links that will allow the user to read about the many accomplishments of the women in the Patriot League, while also serving to promote girls and women in sport. Highlights of this webpage are the Patriot League Celebrating Women in Sports magazine and photo gallery.
The Art Of The Two-Sport Athlete
The glaring difference between high school and intercollegiate athletics for many student-athletes is the level of commitment that must be devoted. At the high school level, many student-athletes play multiple sports, some even one per season during the academic year. In college, however, the time demands placed on a student-athlete playing one sport makes being a multi-sport student-athlete all but impossible nowadays. It is usually the case where in the interest of being successful in both academics and athletics, the student-athlete will select the sport that gives them the most satisfaction both on and off the field of play.
In the age of single-sport athletes, then, how does a rare breed of student-athletes find the time to play more than one sport? For three Lehigh female student-athletes, it is all about time management and having passion for what you do.
The Lehigh field hockey and women's lacrosse teams have more in common than just calling the Ulrich Sports Complex home. Senior Christy Smith, junior Jennifer Cochran, and sophomore Lindsey Smith, who happens to be Christy's younger sibling, each participate and contribute on each team as well. The leader of the pack, Christy Smith, believes that the balancing act can only occur with a level of self-commitment that is hard to find.
"Time management is very important," said the senior from Downingtown, Pa. "When you're involved in so many activities, you're forced to be structured. But if you're involved in things you really like to do, you'll make time to do them."
The elder Smith has certainly been the poster child for the new generation of dual-sport athletes at the collegiate level. Through the fall, Smith held a cumulative 3.88 GPA in Lehigh's industrial engineering major, and was the 2007 Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the sport of women's lacrosse. Last spring, she was one of the team leaders on the Mountain Hawk lacrosse squad, finishing with 22 goals, 11 assists and 33 total points. Those numbers were good enough to earn a spot on the Second-Team All-Patriot League squad.
After spending her second-consecutive summer interning at Synthes, a medical device company located in Pennsylvania, Smith dissected opponents on the field hockey turf this fall. The senior scored eight goals and
notched five assists for a total of 21 points. In Patriot League play, she posted 13 total points, including three game-winning
goals. For her efforts, Smith was selected as the 2007 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year. She was also named All-Patriot League for the third consecutive season. The postseason honors kept coming as she was named First-Team All-Region by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association and chosen to play in its senior all-star game.
Christy attributes some of her success in both sports to having the support of her coaches, both of whom also pulled double duty while in college.
"Having two supportive coaches has made a big difference," she said. "It's an amazing opportunity to play both sports. The coaches' styles are different, and the personalities on the teams are different, but it helps you appreciate both sides of the spectrum."
"The concept of the two-sport athlete is a dinosaur," explained Lehigh Women's Lacrosse Head Coach Liz Ota. "What helps Christy is that she has two head coaches that relate to her exceptionally well. I don't think [Lehigh Field Hockey Head Coach] Julie [Mazer] or I resent the fact that we don't have her for half the year, because we know she's gaining competitive experience in the off season."
Christy's younger sister, Lindsey, who is also studying industrial engineering, and their teammate Jennifer Cochran, a biology major, have also found their niche as two-sport athletes. Lindsey was named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in both sports during her freshman year, and has seven career goals for the field hockey team. Cochran was named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in the sport of women's lacrosse in 2006, and has recorded four career goals in the sport of field hockey through three seasons.
This trio of dual-sport student-athletes represents the true model of the Patriot League student-athlete. Each has found success in the classroom first-and-foremost, but has also parlayed their academic excellence into a greater focus on the field of play. The Lehigh field hockey team advanced to the 2007 Patriot League Field Hockey Tournament this past fall, which was just their third trip to the postseason since the 1996 season. The three will look to make the same impact this spring when they compete for the Lehigh women's lacrosse team.
Excluding the cross country-track and field cross over, there are at least 10 Patriot League student-athletes that currently compete in two sports.