MAYVILLE—Being a high school student usually takes up about seven hours, but if that student also participates in a sport, it can easily add three hours to the day for practices – and even more on game day.
And that’s not counting the time it takes to do homework.
So days can get pretty long.
What, then, if a student decides to participate in two sports during the same season?
At Mayville high school last year, the Cardinals had then-junior Caitlin Falk decide she wanted to do two sports – prep girls cross country and volleyball –in the fall.
Falk was on the varsity volleyball team, but she said cross country head coach Bob Berry wanted her to give running a try as well.
But Falk didn’t want to give up volleyball. So, she decided to do both by asking Berry and volleyball head coach Sarah Persha if it was possible.
Persha and Berry worked out the schedule and it turned out that Falk only missed one volleyball tournament as a varsity member.
It’s a lot of give and take between the two sports, but with the coaches being cooperative, they made it work when volleyball and cross country overlapped.
“She did a great job of setting the tone for me,” Berry said of Falk. “I never had any problem whatsoever about the whole issue.”
Falk wasn’t always able to make it to the cross country workouts with the rest of the team, but when she did have to miss a workout, she would make it up by completing the work out on her own time.
And since it worked so well for Falk – who is now a senior – sophomores Catlyn Mahoney and Hannah Nothem have decided to join in the fun of competing in two sports during the same season. But while Mahoney will be on JV volleyball and varsity cross country, Nothem will be on JV in both cross country and tennis.
“I think the girls didn’t know that it was a possibility,” Persha said of the three athletes. “There’s nothing against it in the rules. We thought we would give it a shot and it worked out. I think we may have started a trend.”
How it worked for Falk was, she would wake up early before school started to get in a workout for cross country, then go to volleyball practice after school.
“The hardest part would be waking up super early before school and running and trying to get it done before school started,” Falk said.
Like Falk did last year, she and her parents, along with the coaches, Mahoney and Nothem, sat down to talk with Athletic Director Joel Wondra to explain that doing two sports won’t be easy.
“Obviously, they have to be very good at managing their time,” Persha said. “If they’re practicing cross country before school, volleyball after school and we’ve got tournaments on Saturdays and matches and cross country meets during the week, and (they) still (have to) get (their) homework done.
“It’s got to be somebody who’s willing to put in the time to do all of those things. Plus still have time for their family and everything else.”
It might be an issue if grades start to struggle. But all involved said that if that were ever to be the case, one sport might need to be given up in order to compensate for the problem.
“We talked about that with the girls,” Persha said. “We told them you have to be prepared. Us as coaches, we understand that if it gets to that you might have to give up one or the other.”
“It’s hard to keep that up with grades and you still want to have a social life,” Mayville girls tennis head coach John Wild added. “If you’re in high school you still want to enjoy all of that. The athletes that are into it that much usually are aggressive in school too. They’re not ones that slack back.”
But while Falk had proven she could do it last season, Mahoney and Nothem are testing it out this season.
For Mahoney, it’s going to be a little tough seeing as the varsity cross country and JV volleyball schedules do overlap more than varsity cross country and varsity volleyball overlap. In that case, she said she would do cross country.
“She’s going to miss quite a few matches, but the volleyball coach is OK with that,” Berry said. “She’s an all-conference cross country athlete.”
Like Falk, Mahoney was stuck between running cross country and doing volleyball last season. Once she found out that Falk successfully did it last season, she gave this year a try to do both sports as well.
“We always do running in the morning together and we’re always tired, but we know we can both do it because she’s done it before,” Mahoney said. “So it’s obviously possible.”
Now, Falk won’t be alone when she has to do her cross country workouts in the morning, and Mahoney will have someone there if she needs help as well.
“It was nice having them to run with, but it was sometimes it was hard to push (myself) running alone,” Falk said. “It’s nice to have Catlyn Mahoney (and Hannah Nothem).”
Speaking of Nothem, her story is a little different than the other two. While she did cross country last year, her sister, Julia Nothem, asked her to come out for tennis with her. Hannah didn’t want to give up running, so she went to Berry and asked to do both.
Wild was OK with it, although it’s the first time he’s ever encountered someone doing two sports. And in addition, Nothem also is in band and has a part-time job babysitting.
“Right now, she’s working her tail off getting up early for cross country, coming to our practices at 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at night,” Wild said. “She’s tired, but she’s doing it.”
Becoming tired is kind of the norm for these three athletes, though. But pushing the limits on a daily basis has its benefits.
“Oh yeah (it helps with conditioning), if we get in a game with some long volleys and where we have a tough team, I would think somebody with possibly better shape than other shape is going to be able to go longer and have the ability to keep blocking high,” Persha said. “At the varsity level we definitely get to that point sometimes, especially when we take a team to five sets.
“When we get all the way to that fifth set, you can tell when there’s a team that’s in better condition than the other team.”