By Nick Pantages
The demanding nature and amount of time collegiate sports take up paired with the workload of classes can make playing sports in college a very stressful situation for a first year student. However, two Springfield College students are not only playing one college sport, but are members of two sports teams on Alden Street.
Kristina Kyle and Mirabel Brunell are members of the women’s soccer team, and are on the women’s track and field team as well.
Although they both are at the same point in their athletic careers, both Kyle and Brunell took extremely different paths to get to this point.
Brunell started with a heavy focus on soccer, but then track came into the fold.
“I started soccer first when I was like five or six in rec soccer like everyone did, and then when I got to eighth grade I started running more for soccer and I kind of liked it, so I joined the track team for my high school,” she said.
However, despite track being an afterthought when Brunell first started, it has taken on much more personal significance now.
Brunell said, “Track is definitely more of an individual focus now though. It’s not just about soccer like when I was younger. I like them equally now.”
Kyle however, has had a different experience with the two sports. During high school, Kyle was a three-sport athlete, competing in basketball as well as soccer and track. Although dropping basketball was hard, competing in two sports at the collegiate level is something Kyle is very comfortable with.
Kyle said, “It was something I’ve always done in my life, so I just decided to continue it.”
Due to the emphasis of stamina in both soccer and distance running, the fitness of both sports sort of overlap, making it easier to compete in both. Therefore, Kyle can use both sports as a tool to stay in shape for the other.
“Track definitely keeps me in shape for soccer, and also in soccer season we did a lot of running which kept me in shape and prepared for the track season. They are two completely different sports, but I feel like they balance each other out fitness-wise,” Kyle said.
Another benefit to both Kyle and Brunell is the fact that they are able to form bonds with two different teams.
“That has been probably the best part of it, because I have two big sets of friend groups,” Brunell said. “I have definitely been able to get close with a lot more people because of it.”
Kyle had a different view on it.
“It was definitely interesting seeing all the girls on the soccer team, and then never seeing them and going to a new team and being with a bunch of different people.”
However, everyone’s kindness, on both teams, made that possible for Kyle.
“Everyone was super welcoming, so it was easy.”
Despite this, it has not been easy. Kyle and Brunell are in the physical therapy and physician’s assistant programs, which are both notoriously rigorous programs. The increase in difficulty and quantity of school work, as well as adjusting to a new social environment, has not made this easy.
Kyle said, “It’s a little bit of an adjustment at the beginning, because I was trying to figure out how to navigate college and also be on two sports teams. But as the semester went on I got more used to just following a schedule. Balancing practice with hard [chemistry] and [biology] classes was really hard, but it got easier as time went on.”
Brunell agreed. Despite the fact that athletics takes up almost all of her free time for both semesters, she sees no regrets in choosing this path.
“It’s definitely a lot of commitment. Every weekend for almost the entire year so far I’ve had either a game or a meet, and sometimes I do wish I didn’t have anything, but then I go and compete and I realize and I love doing that so it’s worth it.”
Both athletes have had a lot of success so far in their career, in both sports.
Kyle, an outside back on the soccer team, started in three games and played in six others, and racked up a goal and an assist in her first season. Brunell is a center back on the soccer team, who appeared in eight games, starting two, and scoring a goal.
On the track and field team, both Kyle and Brunell are mid-distance runners. In the first meet of the spring season at American International College, Kyle and Brunell each racked up fifth place finishes in the 1500-meter and 5K, respectively. In the indoor season, both qualified for the New England Division III Track & Field Championships.
Despite both Kyle and Brunell originally deciding to come here with a focus on playing soccer, Springfield women’s soccer head coach Kristin Cannon has been completely supportive of Kyle and Brunell also competing in track.
Kyle said, “She’s definitely in support of it, she will text me every once in a while and ask, ‘How was your race?’”
After competing in a soccer and indoor track season, and just beginning the spring track season, Kyle is proud of what she has accomplished so far, and also grateful for the chance she has received.
“I think it’s pretty cool, I don’t know too many people that do two sports in college. I’m just happy I got the opportunity to come to Springfield and be on both of these teams.”
Brunell held a similar feeling.
“I am definitely proud of the work I put in to be able to do this,” she said.
However, despite her early success on the pitch and the track, Brunell knows she can’t get too comfortable.
“I don’t take it for granted. I feel like I still have to work hard to get better in each of them.”