Many students would agree that balancing athletics and academics at a college as demanding as Bowdoin can be a challenging prospect. Yet if the prospect of playing one season of a college sport sounds daunting, try three.
"You have to be a special person to be a three-sport athlete," said Softball Head Coach Ryan Sullivan, who understands the challenges that Amy Hackett '12, in her second season with the softball team, faces.
Hackett, who spent the last year playing soccer, basketball and softball, is one of two student-athletes at Bowdoin currently playing three sports.
The other is Katie Herter '12, a member of the field hockey, women's ice hockey and women's lacrosse teams.
"You have to be pretty tough," said Director of Athletics Jeffrey Ward. "It's draining on your body, and it may be even more difficult emotionally. You've got the ups and downs of three different seasons [to deal with]."
Although Hackett and Herter are the only athletes at Bowdoin currently playing three different sports, Ward explained that many students also participate athletically year round as members of the track team.
"There might be 20 kids who run indoor and outdoor track, and cross country," said Ward. "There are a number of kids who do a fall sport, and then indoor and outdoor track as well."
When asked about the greatest challenges three-sport athletes must handle, Sullivan emphasized the mental aspect of continuously competing at the collegiate level.
"I think [the greatest challenge is] the mental energy that is required to be at the top of your game for essentially a nine-month period," he said. "You find professional athletes who find that very hard to do."
Neither Hackett nor Herter expected to play three sports before arriving at Bowdoin. However, their desire to play multiple sports did play an important role in both of their decisions to come to the College.
"I only planned on playing two sports, and that definitely made my decision of where I went to school," said Hackett. "Three sports just kind of happened."
"When I first came I wasn't planning on playing three sports, but two of my freshman year roommates convinced me to play ice hockey," said Herter.
The challenges of competing and succeeding in multiple collegiate sports do not go unrecognized by Ward and others in the athletic department.
"We support that, we celebrate that," said Ward. "We give the Sidney Watson award for the multiple-sport athlete."
"[Our] coaches have a way of saying, 'We support you to do more,'" added Ward. "To be honest, it isn't just athletics. I think our coaches take a little risk so that kids can be engaged in the College broadly. You can't do everything, but we want you to be able to do as much as you can."
However, Herter acknowledged the fact that her athletic commitments cause her to miss out on many aspects of college life.
"I've missed Ivies, I've missed Christmas parties, I've missed a lot of weekends," she said. "I feel like the time from 4 p.m. until dinner time, I have never actually experienced what that's like. [When I have] weekdays off, I don't even know what to do with those hours."
"There's so much to do at Bowdoin, but sports consumes so much time," agreed Hackett.
Herter did note a positive among the difficulties of playing sports year round; in particular, the friendships she has formed during each season.
"I've met so many people on those teams, so I feel like I've got 60 instant friends [between] those teams," she said. "When I was a freshman I pretty much only knew people through sports."
While Hackett and Herter recognize the challenges that come with being three-sport athletes, both expressed that they would find it very difficult to reduce their athletic load.
"I know I should quit a sport, but I also know I could never do it," said Herter. "I can't quit a sport because I know how much I would miss it. [Sports are] such a big part of my life; if I didn't play a sport there would be a huge part of me missing."
"Quitting is very hard, but if it gets to the point where it's no longer your top priority, any coach you have would be very understanding," added Hackett.
When asked what they would say to a student considering playing three sports, both student-athletes cautiously recommended giving it a try.
"You have to be passionate and realize what you're getting yourself into," said Herter. "It can be really hard to quit something once you've started. It's really important to love your team, no matter what season it is. [Athletic seasons] are really long, and if you're not having fun then it's just not worth it at all."
"As long as you love it, I would definitely encourage someone to try it," said Hackett. "Think about it, but why not try?"