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Multi-Sport Athlete From Tennessee Gives Advice

Maya Neal is a D1 SEC multi-sport athlete she is a University of Tennessee soccer and track & field athlete who was kind enough to give advice to upcoming student-athletes who are looking to play at the next level.

Q: What was the recruiting process like for you, especially since you were communicating with multiple coaches at each potential school? How did you make soccer coaches aware that you wanted to participate in track & field and vice versa?

A: The recruiting process for me was a little more complicated than a single-sport athlete having to think about the dynamics of two programs, but overall it was not overwhelming. Since soccer recruiting starts earlier than track does, the communication was initiated by a soccer coach usually, and off-the-bat each coach was aware of me wanting to do both sports.

Q: Did you ever have doubts about whether you were going to be able to participate in both soccer and track & field in college?

A: No. I knew it would be a challenge as far as finding rest time etc, but nothing else was a concern to me.

Q: How did you know that the University of Tennessee was the right fit for you?

A: Both coaching staffs made a great effort to make me feel as though they would work together to help me be successful on and off the field; that in conjunction with the facilities and rich tradition in athletics.

Q: What has been the most challenging part of being a multi-sport athlete?

A: Finding the right time to recover/take time off in between transitions from one to the other or even in season. After my first year, it became easier just because we learned how my body responded to training cycles and what type and timing of recovery worked best for me.

Q: What has been your favorite part of being a multi-sport athlete?

A: Being a part of two completely different challenges physically and mentally because both sports are so different as far as physical demands and focus.

Q: How do you juggle playing two sports and staying on top of your academics as well as being involved in other activities?

A: It’s not anything different from what I was doing in high school as far as involvement in both sports, school, and community service. Doing things like that off the field and outside the oval so I don’t think of it as much of an added “stressor”. It’s just a matter of not adding too much to my schedule and prioritizing so that nothing I choose to do is compromised or haphazard.

Q: What doors opened for you because of playing sports in college?

A: Connections with people and organizations that impact collegiate athletics (i.e. Title IX committee members); community service opportunities, and having a platform to influence others that may want to be a collegiate athlete themselves or create change in society.

Q: Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for high school athletes looking to participate in multiple sports in college?

A: You are your best advocate, so don’t be afraid to say exactly what you want out of your experience and find a support system that would be willing to match your effort and/or understand what it takes for you to be successful in both sports. Surround yourself with people that challenge you to be better and understand your goals.

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