It’s not unusual to find two-sport athletes competing at the high school level. It’s rare at the collegiate ranks.
Star multi-sport athletes getting ready to graduate from high school must decide whether to play a sport in college, and if so, choose whether to continue to play two sports or pick a favorite.
There are a select few who make the decision to continue down the two-sport path. UW Oshkosh’s Brianna Witter, a biology major from Muskego, decided two and a half years ago being a two-sport student-athlete was a task she wanted to tackle.
She wasn’t always a two-sport collegiate athlete due to the fact that she chose to only play softball her freshman year at the University of Tampa. However, quickly growing homesick for Wisconsin and also her love for volleyball, Witter decided transferring mid-year to UW Oshkosh was the right choice.
Witter was soon in contact with the softball and volleyball coaches who were as excited as she was to start this new journey at UWO. She continued playing softball second semester of her freshman year and launched her college volleyball career at the start of her sophomore year.
UW Oshkosh head volleyball coach Brian Schaefer said Witter is a wonderful student-athlete.
“Due to her work ethic and natural athletic ability, she was able to earn a starting position her first year on the team as the year progressed,” Schaefer said.
The coach thinks it is even more amazing since she didn’t play volleyball her senior year of high school or first year of college.
According to her softball and volleyball coaches, Witter is a great teammate. She gets along with members of both teams and is respectful and kind.
“Bri brings a sense of calmness to our team,” said head softball coach Scott Beyer. “She is a very consistent person on and off the field. Although she is a quiet leader, the team looks to Bri as someone they can trust and who will always be supportive.”
Witter could not pin down a favorite of the two collegiate sports.
“My favorite,” she said, “is whichever is in season.”
She says that although both teams are very different, they are accepting and understanding that she has a lot on her plate.
“When I get back with either team, it’s almost as if I never left,” Witter said. “Both teams get along very well and everyone has good goals for each other throughout the season.”
On top of being a great athlete, Witter is an amazing student. The Division III philosophy emphasises academics and allows her to partake in both sports that she is passionate about as well as purse her dream of going to medical school.
“I really love the idea of being able to directly change and impact a person’s life for the better when they come to you in one of their weakest moments,” Witter said.
Oncology interests Witter as her ultimate career goal because her grandma, who had her own fight with cancer, had such an influence on her life.
“My grandma really inspired me because she was so brave,” Witter said. “She never let anyone know how sick she really was because she never felt sorry for herself.”
Working in oncology would give Witter the opportunity to help others continue their fight against terrible diseases, like cancer–a chance she feels they all deserve.
Currently, Witter volunteers at Fox Valley Hematology and Oncology where the cancer patients are some of the best people she has ever met.
Her coaches have seen how Witter likes to be challenged and can accomplish a goal when she sets her mind to it.
“She does a great job balancing academics, athletics and her social life,” Beyer said. “She doesn’t waste much of her free time, and she keeps her priorities in order. She is known to study on the bus and in hotel rooms when needed.”
All of this may seem like a lot of work, but to Witter, it’s what she’s used to.
“It’s hard at times, but I guess I have nothing really to compare it to,” Witter said. “It’s my normal.”
Although balancing life, athletics and academics can be a struggle, her coaches believe it is dependent on who student-athletes surround themselves with.
“I think when you surround yourself around other hard working people nothing but good things can come out of it,” Schaefer said, noting Witter has grouped herself with positive people who have helped her to be successful.