Multi-Sport Athletes Powell and Siegrist Make Challenging Task Look Easy
Jan. 23, 2012
By Becky Hart, Bucknell Athletic Communications
Seven Patriot League titles. Six all-league citations. Three Academic All-Patriot League Team nods. Two school records and five more Bucknell top-10 marks. It sounds like the resume of some Bison teams, but in reality it belongs to just two student-athletes. Tayler Siegrist and Andrew Powell are both members of an elite club of Division I athletes who play multiple sports and succeed at the highest level. To hear them talk, it's not as difficult as you would think either.
"I feel like the time commitment, it's kind of the same (as if you play one sport)," says Siegrist, who splits her time with Bucknell field hockey and as one of the Bison's top javelin throwers. "It's just juggling the two different sets of people, maintaining my relationships with my field hockey friends and my field hockey coaches during track and vice versa during field hockey season. So I don't feel like it's much more of a time commitment."
Siegrist isn't alone in her assessment.
"It's definitely a big time commitment, although the soccer team now is already training for next year, so it's kind of one of those things where if you're doing a Division I sport, you're pretty much all year anyway," says Powell, a starting defender with men's soccer and a multi-event athlete with track and field. "It's definitely a different mindset for both sports, but as far as the time commitment, it's more, but it's not too much more."
In early college sports, the multi-sport athlete was not uncommon. The Bucknell Athletics Hall of Fame has 62 athletes inducted with more than one team and 36 of them graduated before 1970. Today, there are eight Bison who appear on more than one roster.
"Growing up, my coaches were like, `You need to stop doing so many things and focus on what I want to do,'" recalls Powell, who was an indoor high jump state champion and two-time all-state soccer selection before coming to Bucknell. "So I feel like it's partly coaches. Here, they're not too bad. It's kind of why I decided to come here. Every other school I was looking at was, `No, you can't do two sports.'"
Like Powell, Siegrist's decision to attend Bucknell was influenced by the Bison coaches' acceptance of the idea of a modern multi-sport athlete.
"My coaches are really supportive of the idea," says Siegrist. "I think really what's made it so possible for me to do two sports is the coaches communicating with each other, accepting that they're going to have to share my time. They have their agreement, and they've stuck to it."
There has been opportunity for the various programs to battle over Powell's and Seigrist's time. Meeting the responsibilities of both teams is a balancing act that they have down to a science.
"It starts in the summer," says Powell before pausing to reconsider when his season actually begins. "I don't know when it starts. Well, we'll start in the summer. I start training on my own for soccer. This summer I worked a few soccer camps here, playing and training and running with the guys. Preseason starts in August. August 1 is when we came back for captains' practice. Then we started a few days after that. Then it's just soccer, really intense for the next two or three months, depending on how we do.
"And then I had a week off and I started track practice. Track starts off real slow for me," continues Powell. "January 3 is when we come back for preseason for track, or Track Camp, and that's when it gets really intense. We start training really hard and that's kind of when the season takes off. You have indoor track and that goes right into outdoor. I'm going to be going hard from January 3 to the middle of May."
While Powell's continuous cycle of training will end this spring after he graduates, Siegrist's will continue for another year. Last June, she qualified for the NCAA East Regional Championships in the javelin. Later that same month, she competed with the Pennsylvania Junior National Championship squad at the USA Field Hockey High Performance tournament.
Even with a lack of downtime, both Bison say that the change of pace actually feeds their success. Powell doesn't even like the idea of having to concentrate on only one sport.
"I think I might go crazy if I do that," says the senior. "I think whenever I get too focused on something, I don't do as well at it. If I'm kind of loosey-goosey, getting thrown into weird situations, I'll be able to overcome those situations. But if I'm focused on one thing all the time, every time, I get too focused. It's like you're too tense or too methodical about it and you're not as loose. My track coach always says, `We didn't train at all last year, and you set the school record in the decathlon,' but I kind of like that. It's kind of like going in, you're fresher.
"I don't know how Tayler does it," Powell continues. "She doesn't compete until outdoors, and it's one thing every day. She started a few days before me, and she said she would have missed out on all the technique. I just kind of go out there and compete. I think we're very similar, but we're very different."
One area where Powell, an accounting major, and Siegrist, a management major, are very similar is in their love of structure.
"I kind of like having a schedule," says Powell. "There was that one week where I didn't have any sports. I wasn't going to practice every day and it was weird. It was too weird for me. I didn't know when to do work. I didn't know when to eat. I wouldn't know what to do without school or sports. What would a pro soccer player do all day? A regular college student, I guess, would be very different."
If both Bison thrive on being busy, few places is that more obvious than in competition. In 2010 Powell became Bucknell's first-ever Patriot League decathlon champion before going on to take the league's heptathlon title at the 2011 indoor meet. His soccer teams have won one regular-season Patriot League title and two tournament championships that earned NCAA Tournament bids, while the track team won back-to-back outdoor titles for the first time in program history in 2010 and 2011. He holds the Bucknell decathlon and shuttle hurdle relay records, is six points shy of the record in the heptathlon, and ranks among the top seven in both the indoor (6-8 ¾) and outdoor (6-8 ¼) high jump.
"Someone on my team two years ago said, `Winning is habitual.' It's not just something random that happens sometimes. It was funny because we won the soccer one first and all my friends were like, `Oh, man. We need to win a Patriot League Championship.' They were all jealous. I think when you see another sports team win, it motivates other teams to win, and that's part of why we've been so successful as a school in the past few years."
Siegrist has also helped Bucknell to a pair of Patriot League outdoor track championships. As a sophomore she placed third in the javelin at the league meet and ranks fourth all-time at Bucknell in the event (144-1). This past fall, she led the Bison to two straight wins over field hockey's eight-time defending champion American for the first time in program history, including an upset in the Patriot League Tournament semifinals on the top-seeded Eagles' home turf.
"I have the background of winning a Patriot League Championship and knowing what it feels like," says Siegrist. "When I go into field hockey, it's frustrating at times because we haven't gotten that championship that we've wanted, but it's also cool knowing that I know what it feels like to have it and hoping that one day our team will be able to have that sort of success that we have in track. I look back and I hope that we can have this experience one day together."
Despite the success, neither Powell nor Siegrist think about their place in a lineage of multi-sport athletes that includes the likes of Christy Mathewson.
"I just think that I'm thankful to have this opportunity because it is rare," says Siegrist. "I thank God that I have this opportunity and really try to take everything I can get from it."
Note: This story appeared in a recent edition of the Bucknell Basketball Gameday Program.