HELENA — When Carroll College freshman point guard Shamrock Campbell arrived home from the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City, he took some time to unwind.
“I think I took three or four days off,” Campbell recalled.
Less than a week after playing in the NAIA National Championship game against Georgetown College, he knew he was ready to get back to work.
Campbell put his basketball gear away and put on his track clothes.
And just like that, one season ends and another begins. The life of a dual-sport athlete might be a little busy, but Campbell wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I like keeping busy,” Campbell said. “It gives me something to do.”
The idea of playing more than one sport isn’t new to athletes such as Campbell.
Growing up in Spokane, Washington, most of his teammates at Ferris High were multi-sport athletes, so it wasn’t surprising that he found a second love after trying track.
“I was actually thinking about playing soccer, but I decided during my freshman year (of high school) that track would complement basketball and help my athleticism," Campbell said.
He quickly found success in track, leaving Ferris as a 4A triple jump champion.
With his familiarity with basketball, he found track a bit different to prepare for.
“Basketball is a lot more team-oriented, while track is just you on the runway,” Campbell said. “I like it.”
Campbell has already turned heads by qualifying for nationals in the triple jump, but he isn’t the only track athlete that is playing another sport.
Sophomore Nikki Krueger has been a member of the women’s basketball team since arriving at Carroll, and she had to transition quickly after this past season ended to compete in the shot put.
“My sister was actually a big influence on me coming here and playing two sports,” Krueger said. “She was on track but also played volleyball.”
Krueger and Campbell are just two results of the recruiting plan track and field coach Harry Clark has envisioned. He has seven players who play more than one sport and has plans to add two more next season.
Now in his seventh year, Clark says the plan is to work with the other coaches in the athletic department to find multi-sport athletes.
“It gives these kids an opportunity to keep doing a sport they love to do,” Clark said. “People don’t realize that they can come here to play two sports over just doing one sport at a bigger school.”
Take Krueger for example. Growing up in Kalispell, she was predominantly a basketball player and was even offered an opportunity to play basketball at the University of Montana. Instead, she chose Carroll so she could have the ability to play both sports on scholarship.
“My scholarships are split,” Krueger said. “If I didn’t play track here, I’d be paying a lot more tuition.”
The addition of track and field has also shown to be beneficial in the development of an athlete’s primary sport.
Krueger has seen an improvement with her footwork because of the way she spins and keeps her balance while throwing the shot put. Campbell has also seen an increase in speed while training for the triple jump.
“These kids are athletes,” Clark said. “They are working on speed, especially these basketball and football players.”
Carroll men’s basketball coach Kurt Paulson stuck to basketball during his four years in college but, like Clark, encourages the athlete’s decision to play more than one sport.
“Obviously (Campbell) is a talented kid,” Paulson said of Campbell. “The events he is doing really help him stay in shape.”
Playing more than one sport hinges primarily on an athlete’s ability to balance sports, school work, and sleep efficiently. The schedules can get pretty busy.
Sophomore Micah Ans of Billings was out on the practice football field Tuesday morning at 5:15 a.m. Seven hours later he was across town at Vigilante Stadium running the 400 meters.
He said practicing two sports six days a week can be exhausting, but he makes it a priority to relax on Sunday.
“I just kick back, play a couple of video games, and take my girlfriend out to lunch,” Ans said.
Ans, Krueger and Campbell know all too well what it is like to play in front of a home crowd.
But that has always been as a team against specific opponent.
Now, as the Saints prepare for Friday’s Trudnowski Open held at Vigilante Stadium, not only will they individually face tracksters from other schools, but they may even compete against their own teammates.
It’s a mindset that a dual-sport athlete needs to tap into if they want to succeed.
“I can’t rely on my teammates like during basketball season,” Krueger said. “You can put a lot of pressure on yourself, but it’s a challenge. I love it.”