For many two-way athletes, there will always be a sport of choice, one they pick over the other.
Sophomore Peter Swinkels, a communications major from San Francisco, is one of these two-sport athletes. He is a part of the newly-formed men’s track and field team and plays goalkeeper for the SF State soccer team.
For a short number of athletes they opt to participate in two sports. Both track and field and soccer can be practiced simultaneously. Track and field events primarily run its course during the spring semester, while soccer kicks off in the fall. Student athletes have many options to stay in shape when it comes to the offseason and for two-sport athletes, theirs is an entirely different sport.
Brandon Davis, the senior associate director of athletics for SF State, believes that “different sports can help student-athletes’ strength and agility.”
For Swinkels, the track and field team was the best option for him to work on his conditioning during his soccer offseason.
Endurance and stamina are two key components that soccer players must work on. “Some teammates including myself decided track would be a good way to stay fit,” Swinkles said. “There was a learning curve at first but I came to enjoy it.”
The three-time Gator of the Week in 2018, says that the track and field coaching staff understands his positioning on picking soccer over track. “Definitely soccer is my priority,” he said. “The track and field coaches have been very accommodating and understanding in this regard.”
Swinkels still goes to the weekly soccer practices that include weight training and only competes in meets for the track team.
With the track and field team this season, Swinkles has placed four and fifth in the 100m, and third in the 4x100m.
Another runner that also finds his way in the two-sport athlete life is junior business major Jonathan Orozco, who also represents soccer and track and field for SF State.
Orozco believes that, “the track and field team has helped me in many ways during this offseason. Mainly keeping me in shape and pushing my limits.”
For Orozco, there are many similarities with between track and field routines and soccer. “I’ve been through many track workouts that go hand-in-hand with playing a soccer game,” Orozco said. “Whether it’s long distance or sprints. I’ve become a smarter runner because I’ve learned how to pace my body on a track which will translate to a [soccer] game.”
In a soccer game, players will make short sprints to open up space for a pass, pull the mark on a defender, or reach the ball before the opposing team does.
Many soccer players will play for a recreational soccer Sunday league or club soccer team in their local city during their college offseason in order to stay in shape. Swinkels has played club soccer in the past for the SFVSC Rebels and VV Katwijk and won the State Cup in 2015.
Running isn’t the only aspect that needs polishing during an offseason and Swinkels has something planned for the summer, right before the fall soccer season. “This summer I will be playing for SF City FC in the USL 2,” Swinkles said.
The USL 2 is a developmental soccer league that is the second division of the semi-professional United Soccer League.
Orozco also stays in touch with his soccer roots during the offseason. “I’ve been playing for other teams outside of SF State,” he said. We have practices during the week and games during the weekends, outdoor and indoor soccer.”
Swinkles sees many pros and cons with the soccer offseason. “We have more time on our hands than in the fall which is nice. It allows us to focus on our schoolwork and take up other activities,” he said.
Davis agreed with Swinkles’ notion. “If student athletes are able to balance both teams as well as school, it is certainly a benefit,” he said.
Orozco seeks nature in order to be away from both sports. “I like to go on hikes to get away from the sport a little and just relax so that I don’t burn out my body,” he said.
The workload for college students is heavy, as they have to deal with a full plate. For student-athletes, there’s even more for them.
Swinkles has kept a positive mindset and hopes that others do the same in regards to the offseason. “Regardless of where you play over the summer, it’s important to keep playing. It’s unfortunate that we have summer before the fall season, but every college team deals with the same problem,” he said. “It’s about how you, the player, work around it in order to be the best you can going into the fall.”
Swinkels will look to have many clean sheets next season for the Gators in fall where they will try to once again win their division.
At the same time, Davis will look forward to more athletes participating in more than one sport. “We have had several student-athletes this season who were multi-sport athletes. While it’s less common these days, we don’t discourage it.”