UJ is home to many multi-sport athletes – Jamestown Sun
JAMESTOWN – Jamestown University is home to many multi-sport athletes, three of whom are Isaiah Roebuck, Chris Sayler and Peyton Oelrich.
Roebuck is a freshman outfielder and pitcher on the baseball team and plays wide receiver on the football team. Sayler is a sophomore running back on the football team and runs sprints and jumps for the track team. Oelrich is a freshman hitter on the football team and outfielder on the softball team.
While some athletes come with the intention of playing multiple sports, Roebuck said that’s not the case for him.
“I was originally recruited as a football player, but because I also played baseball, my head football coach (Brian Mistro) introduced me to the head baseball coach (Tom Hager)” , said Roebuck. “After that, I was also recruited to play baseball.”
Sayler’s two-sport course is a bit different than Roebuck’s. Sayler, a Jamestown native, planned to run track and play football for the Jimmies.
“Coming into freshman year, I was recruited for both athletics and football,” Sayler said. “I guess I just started playing football and at the end of the football season the athletics coach contacted me and said they still want me to do athletics. So they convinced me and I wanted to do it, so I did it.
As athletic director, Austin Hieb appreciates the number of dual-sport athletes on UJ’s campus and said the competitive spirit brings a lot to the campus and the outside community as a whole.
“Competitively, that’s one of the reasons a lot of coaches say they like dual-sport athletes simply because they like kids who like competition,” Hieb said. “So if you have a multi-sport athlete on your team, obviously that’s someone who is looking for competition, who loves competition and you can never have enough people around you who love competition. So I think that having athletes who thrive in competition is valuable to the community.”
The trio faced the struggle to balance their respective sports and academics with the offseason for each overlapping the respective seasons. Oelrich said she was forced to focus on one sport as the schedule became hectic.
“Sometimes it’s hard to balance the two just because the practices are often at the same time,” Oelrich said. “I ended up quitting football completely for a few weeks, and then as softball went deeper into the season, I started doing one or two football practices a week. Basically, when softball n I’m not here anymore, I’m going to soccer.
In addition to athletes working to stay organized, coaches need to coordinate in order to make the best use of the athlete’s time. Mistro said communication between himself, track and field coach Andrew Raske and Hager must be paramount to the athletes’ success.
“If we’re all on the same page, then it’s going great,” Mistro said. “If we’re not all on the same page, it’s an up-and-down battle over where are they at in training this week and what they’re up to next week and where are they going in the week. For us, it’s just about making sure we’re all on the same page and we’re all getting along pretty well, so it works out pretty well.
One of the unique challenges Oelrich faces is that the skills are different to be good at soccer or softball.
“My skills for either sport don’t help the other much outside of the racing aspect,” Oelrich said. “I think softball has helped my reaction time and hopefully it will help me time runs for football.”
Sayler said the overlapping spring seasons make juggling the two sports a little more difficult. Sayler said the running track helped him on the field.
“The track is really useful, just the speed and the explosiveness and it’s good to translate that into football,” Sayler said.
Roebuck is not the only baseball-football Jimmie of the Hager era as he was preceded by Jeff Nold, Danny White, Max Boe and Cade Torgerson.
“We’ve had great baseball-football players in the past. … We’ve had guys who have been able to do both,” Hager said. “They did it because they are good athletes and because they know how to balance their schedules.”
While some of the teams accommodate more dual-sport athletes than others, Sayler said his enjoyment is hanging out with a larger group of people than if he were just playing one sport.
“My favorite part is the competition and just the camaraderie with the teams,” Sayler said. “It’s fun being on two teams, it’s twice as many people you get to know, twice as many coaches you work with. They’re two different sports, so it’s fun to be able to compete in two things like that, especially in college.
Oelrich’s athleticism is so high that she started playing softball in her senior year of high school, and it blossomed into a love of the sport.
“I know I’m better at soccer just because I’ve been playing it for so long and that’s what I came here for initially, but I really like softball more,” Oelrich said.