Senior football players take their talents to the track
On December 3, 2022, the Ithaca College football team wrapped up a season for the books after winning the program’s first undefeated regular season since 1986 as well as its first-ever Liberty League title. For two seniors, however, their time in the Bomber threads isn’t quite over yet.
Senior wide receivers Anthony D’Addetta and Daniel Hutchinson debuted for the college track team in December 2021 after completing their football season 8–2 in November 2021. D’Addetta, who finished the historic 2022 football season recognized as an All-Liberty League First Team kick returner, competes for the track and field team as a sprinter while Hutchinson elected to compete in the long and high jump events.
Hutchinson, who won his season-opening long jump event by nearly a foot on January 21, said he attributes much of his talent on the track to the mindset he he has developed throughout his football career.
“In football you have to be strong mentally,” Hutchinson said. “Transitioning this aspect of my game from football to track has been something that has put me ahead of some of my opponents.”
Jim Nichols, head coach of the men’s track and field team, said D’Addetta and Hutchinson bring an undeniable sense of competition to the team that can be hard to find elsewhere.
“Both are growing steadily and still excited about athletics,” Nichols said. “Joining the team is a change of pace for them from football, and they bring so much personality to the team and their events.”
Both athletes continued to place in their first competitions, with D’Addetta taking fifth in the 60 meters and Hutchinson placing fourth in the high jump and sixth in the long jump at the Nazareth Conference Challenge Cup on January 28.
The track and field team is no stranger to dual sport athletes. Junior running back Jalen Leonard-Osbourne was the first of the football players to broaden his sporting horizons as a sprinter when track and field resumed after the pandemic, later making a name for himself as an NCAA national champion at 60 yards in March 2022 He was soon followed by D’Addetta and Hutchinson in addition to junior running back Jalen Hines, freshman wide receiver CJ Jones and sophomore wide receiver Tyrell Penalba.
Hutchinson said he saw a noticeable change in his skills, those of Leonard-Osbourne and D’Addetta on the football field, which inspired many of his teammates to follow suit by joining the track and field team. .
“Our athletic ability exploded,” Hutchinson said. “Our speed has increased, our jumping ability has increased, our level of competition has increased. We told our guys that if you want to go faster, run on the track and you’ll be run by anyone on the football field.
D’Addetta said that in the same way that his work on the track enhanced his performance on the football field, his football career also contributed to his success in the sprint.
“All of the strength and conditioning work that we do in football is to make a really powerful athlete,” D’Addetta said. “We have to be big, fast and strong. This translates a lot on the track; I’m so much more explosive off the blocks than I would be without football practice.
Aside from its perks, being a dual-sport athlete puts just another strain on student-athletes who already balance their lessons with training for a sport. Hutchinson said the transition from one sporting season to another can be overwhelming, but the mindset he and his teammates share has helped them deal with the rigors.
“Your body doesn’t get much of a break between seasons, but we’ve started to treat the indoor season like we would winter training for football,” Hutchinson said. “If we treat everything like training, it’s a bit easier to adapt and get used to everything in the new season.”
Head football coach Michael Toerper said when he talks to his athletes about spending their spring with the track team, a big part of him is making sure they have the right priorities.
“The conversation started with making sure they can balance academics first,” Toerper said. “It’s a lot to juggle when you’re trying to be at the top of your game in football, at the top of your game in athletics and then there’s also this little thing called ‘school’. I was really supporting them but, above all , I had to make sure that everything was going well academically.
Toerper said while it may take some management time, the ability to compete on two collegiate sports teams is a major benefit of NCAA Division III experience.
“If you’re going to do multiple sports, you better be really good at both,” Toerper said. “We have guys who are really, really good at both areas and that’s a big part of what makes our program unique.”
Toerper and Nichols added that seeing D’Addetta and Hutchinson return to the track this spring — rather than taking their final semester to rest — didn’t surprise them.
“These guys are competitors, and this is one last opportunity for them to be varsity athletes,” Nichols said. “They know you only have a certain amount of time, a certain eligibility to be able to do something. If they have time, they will use it.
Toerper said the pride of seeing his athletes’ successes off the football pitch can be overwhelming and he looks forward to seeing them continue to compete more than anything.
“They love being in the moment and performing at their best when the stakes are highest,” Toerper said. “I’m really proud of the type of people and the type of teammates they are. Seeing them bring all that growth to the track team has been awesome.
D’Addetta said that aside from his love for competition, the opportunity to spend extra time with his teammates is something he would never pass up.
“I’m thinking about that last game at North Central [College] a lot,” D’Addetta said. “To see the guys on the team and think that I don’t want this race to be over. We’re so close as a group and as a unit, so to be able to go on and play with some of my teammates again is really exciting.
Hutchinson said that, like D’Addetta, competing this spring is the only way he could have imagined ending his time as a bomber.
“Spend time with [D’Addetta] and those guys on the football team mean everything to me,” Hutchinson said. “The pinnacle of my sporting career is being with my guys. Not necessarily competing and performing well, but just being with them and having that bond is everything.