In this era of youth sports specialization and increasing year-round training demands on student-athletes, the days of the two-sport college athlete seem numbered.
But that's not the case at McDaniel College. Freshman Drake Pew is not just playing two sports -- he's doing it in the same season.
"The way I see, it there are 24 hours in the day," said Pew, a starting midfielder on the McDaniel men's soccer team and the backup kicker for the football team. "I use about six of those hours to sleep, and the rest is used to get work done."
Pew, a York, Pa., native who attended Dallastown High School, has scored a pair of goals for head coach Steve Corrieri's 5-0-1 soccer team. And while schedule conflicts have allowed him to dress for only one of three football games, Pew's future appears bright there, too.
"As you might expect from a kid who's trying to play two sports at the college level, on the field Drake is all energy," Corrieri said. "Even if he was given a more mundane role, I think he would always be trying to do more for us. It's how he was able to play four sports in high school. He always wants to be challenged and expects to succeed."
Pew actually competed in five sports -- soccer, football, track, wrestling and lacrosse -- during high school, but only was able to squeeze in four during a single calendar year. He proved time and again that he was up to any challenge.
After being a goalkeeper for most of his soccer career, four years ago Pew decided to play for Corrieri's York FC club soccer team and become a field player.
"Playing for him is the reason that I was able to get to the level that I'm at in such a short period of time," Pew said of Corrieri.
It was in high school Pew first began playing soccer and football during the same season.
"In high school it actually worked out perfectly," he said. "Soccer was usually before football, so I would go right from the soccer field to put my football stuff on quickly, so that I could get on the field in time to kick off."
During his senior year, Pew had to stop wrestling for a while because of an injury, only to come back to win the county tournament.
"I had partially torn my MCL a month before the county tournament," Pew recalled, "and the only reason I came back was that the guy I got hurt wrestling against entered in my weight class to win it because he knew that I was out. I came back for that reason and won the tournament. It probably wasn't the smartest decision, but I'm happy that I did it."
A typical day for Pew includes three or four hours of classes, a couple hours on the soccer field, maybe a little time kicking a football, and then some reading and studying. Sometimes he can make it to part of football practice before heading to soccer. Meals often become snacks on the go. He even manages to referee an occasional intramural soccer game and work some office hours for the college's intramural sports program. Daunting as it sounds, Pew seems to thrive.
"Besides the occasional free days when you are able to catch up, I feel like my days are how college should be," Pew, a political science major, said. "You should be busy doing something every minute. That's how you become successful."
Despite his hectic schedule, Pew would like to do more. He wishes he could be at more football practices and attend every game, but his football coach understands and is willing to accept the terms in hopes of securing Pew's services more in the future.
"There's no doubt he can be a very good kicker for us," said football head coach Mike Dailey, whose team is 2-1. "We've had to work around the schedules that had already been set for this year, but I think for next year we will just recruit another kicker, and then will use Drake whenever he's available. The more we can get him the better. If we can figure out a way to get him more, knowing that he's a soccer-first guy, it will definitely benefit us."
Pew was able to attend the first week of football training camp before soccer started, which Dailey said was helpful for getting him acclimated and developing timing with the snapper and holder. Pew manages to find time to kick on his own and occasionally gets home to practice with the current kicker at his old high school. Being the competitor that he is, though, he isn't thrilled about missing practices and games.
"I wish I could make all the games, but with the conflicts it's tough," said Pew, who will dress for at least two more varsity football games. "I feel like I'm letting my guys down when I'm not there. I want to be someone who plays both sports and is looked to as a natural leader of both teams -- someone the guys can talk to and look up to and mimic my work ethic."
The two head coaches have a strong working relationship and hope to minimize schedule conflicts in the future. The football schedule is set two years in advance, but Corrieri might have more flexibility with his schedule to help the situation.
Pew will continue to manage his time and put in the work to get better at both sports. He will play in the soccer game at Dickinson Sept. 23, and then come back and dress for the JV football game Sept. 24. What sounds exhausting to most energizes Pew.
"I'm excited to get out on the football field," he said. "It's been a long time. Football is a different animal. Kicking is such an adrenaline rush."
Photo Credit: David Sinclair/McDaniel College