‘I Love the Challenge’: The Rigor of New Canaan Multi-Sport Athletes 


NBA players have 192 days in their off-season. The NFL has 242. These are days, weeks, and months of rest and recovery that many athletes need to perform their best. 

Yet for many high school athletes, this is not the case. 

#11 Luke Robinson shooting a three-pointer against Norwalk. Credit: Chris Harrison

These athletes don’t have any days off. They don’t get these precious weeks of rejuvenation between seasons. If they want to reach their dreams and aspirations in multiple sports, these athletes are asked, required, to not lift their foot off the gas until they look up and a new year is beginning.

According to New Canaan High School Athletic Director Jay Egan, nearly half of the athletes at NCHS play more than one sport. These multi-sport athletes go from the field to the court, the court to the rink, and the rink back to the field in only a matter of days. 

One can only wonder how they do it. At the same time, NCHS athletics officials and the student-athletes themselves say the challenge pays off in bringing new skills both on and off the field of play.

Luke Robinson is one of these athletes. He will go from being the starting quarterback of the varsity football team to a vital piece of the basketball rotation, overnight. 

Quarterback Luke Robinson surveying the field against Windsor. Credit: Chris Harrison

“I remember last year, seeing Ty [Groff] lead us to a state championship victory in football, and then the next day, he was at practice as captain of the basketball team,” Robinson said. “This transition from the field to the court, from hard hits in football practice to throwing elbows in basketball practice, is definitely challenging. But, if you love each sport, love the endless competition, and love the feeling of success as a result of the hard work, then it is doable.”

Izzy Appelt, an athlete who plays field hockey and lacrosse, said she spent four to five days per week “lifting weights and conditioning in preparation for lacrosse.”

“This training starts directly after field hockey ends, which can definitely get tiring, but I love each sport enough to persevere,” Appelt said. 

Defender Izzy Appelt taking the ball up the field. Credit: Chris Harrison

A senior who has committed to Georgetown for lacrosse, Appelt reflected on the bond she has with each sport. 

“I have a unique relationship with field hockey, a sport that has always been there for me and a sport that I’ve always loved,” she said. “It definitely is sad to think that this season is the last time I will be playing. Lacrosse is where my future is. I love to play and am excited to have the opportunity to continue to play in college.”

As a result of this college commitment, Appelt said she trains more for lacrosse than field hockey. She plays lacrosse year-round- for the high school as well as her club team—the CT Grizzlies—and trains for field hockey in the summer. 

However, Appelt said field hockey is still very important to her. 

“It got hard last year, juggling field hockey and the recruitment events for lacrosse, but I tried to always prioritize the sport whose season it was and totally buy into my team,” she said.

Another challenge for these multi-sport athletes is staying on top of their school work while amidst the constant grind of their sport. 

Robinson said, “Balancing sports with school gets really challenging, but you must continue to be smart and efficient with your time and constantly be working hard. You must remember that you are a student-athlete—the word ‘student’ comes first.”

For Egan, sports are actually beneficial for students. 

“When athletes are in season, they are forced to realize their athletic and academic responsibilities and manage their time more effectively,” he told NewCanaanite.com. “Statistics show that athletes actually manage their time better when they are in-season—with abundant responsibilities—as opposed to out-of-season, with no motivation to get work done.”

Egan has long been, and remains, a supporter of athletes playing multiple sports. 

“When students play multiple sports, they get to learn from different adults and develop relationships with many different teammates,” he said. “They learn new skills, and some of them can actually apply to other sports. I also think there is great value in competition. Sports and the resulting competition force people to go through different experiences and learn from their successes and losses that can be applied to life on a bigger scale.”

Egan also has noted in the past that some of New Canaan’s most successful athletes post-high school—such as Curt Casali, the town’s first MLB player, and Zach Allen, who plays in the NFL—played multiple sports as Rams.

Despite the rigor and requirements of hard work that playing multiple sports entails, NCHS athletes are glad they play the sports they do. 

When asked if they regret playing two sports, Appelt and Robinson responded with a resounding no. 

“There have been countless times when I’ve been exhausted and felt like quitting,” Appelt said, “But I don’t regret my decision to pursue multiple sports at all. I love the challenge.”

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