The benefits of being a multi-sport athlete have been a hot topic as of late. US Lacrosse magazine recently featured BC’s Kenzie Kent who plays both ice hockey and lacrosse at Boston College. Like Kent, my main athletic focuses are ice hockey and lacrosse, which I play and coach at a high level.
I played four years of Division I lacrosse at the College of the Holy Cross, but upon graduating got the opportunity of a lifetime to play professional ice hockey in Germany. That didn’t mean I had to give up lacrosse though, the German National Lacrosse Team needed an assistant coach for their development team, a role I readily accepted. When I came back to America I had worked up the courage to try-out for the National Women’s Hockey League, or NWHL, and signed with the Connecticut Whale for the 2017-18 season. I balanced that with my UB Women’s Lacrosse schedule where I currently work as a graduate assistant.
On the UB Women’s Lacrosse team I coach two players who also play for the UB soccer team, Shyla Murray and Anneliese Jennings. As a collegiate coach, I love having dual sport athletes because I know how eager they are to compete. These athletes choose to continue playing when they could be having their off-season. That kind of heart isn’t something that a coach can teach. Two of my Whale teammates are also former collegiate Division I dual sport athletes, Kelly Babstock and Elena Orlando. Babstock, who played both hockey and lacrosse at Quinnipiac, stressed the importance of how playing multiple sports gives you more opportunities for scholarships and getting a great education. Orlando, who played both hockey and rugby, believes that her successes in one sport increased her confidence in the other.
As both a coach and a player I have noticed that there are huge advantages for a multi-sport athlete. There are synergistic results when you cross train that you just wouldn’t see if you focused all your training on one sport. For the women I have coached, I have noticed that they come into their second season in great athletic shape, reaching their fitness times and lift goals. Personally, I have noticed that there is a lot of crossover between the sports I play. Both ice hockey and lacrosse involve hand eye coordination, using time and space, and boxing opposing players out with your body. We might not call some of the terms by the same name, but they are exactly the same. For example, I get laughed at when I tell my lacrosse players to back check, but chasing your player all the way to the restraining line is the same concept.
The athletes that I coach and the athletes that I play with are like family to me, although I play different roles in each. The fact that I play for and coach multiple teams means I have a huge family. I have distant family members, like my Holy Cross teammates who I only get to see once a year, and close ones like my friends on the Whale who I see once a week. At the end of the day they all add up to a network of people I can rely on and trust.
Speaking of this network, you’ll find that the more connections you have, the more opportunities you will have in life. I would have never been able to live abroad if it weren’t for an old hockey friend I made years ago who I kept in contact with. She reached out to me about playing hockey for her team, while my former Holy Cross coach Stephanie Ridolfi shared an exciting opportunity to coach. It was fate that both opportunities were located in the Hannover, Germany. My message here is that you should always keep your options open. When I thought my ice hockey career was over because I accepted a scholarship to play lacrosse in college I never gave up hope on one day playing hockey again. I have hung up my cleats for lacrosse for the past couple years since graduating, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try-out for the women’s professional lacrosse league next season. As a multi-sport athlete, the world is full of possibilities. If you want to continue playing competitively, you will find a way.