Student athlete balances two sports

Junior Ellie Weltha is a dual-sport athlete. Weltha is a forward for the basketball team and utility for softball.

Before coming to Truman State University, she played at Illinois State University. 

“I actually committed my sophomore year [of high school], ” Weltha said. “I just played softball there.”

Weltha played four sports during high school, softball, basketball, track & field and then volleyball her senior year. 

Only playing one sport at Illinois State made her miss being a multi-sport athlete. 

“I thought it would be fine to just play one, and I really didn’t like it,” Weltha said. “I really wanted to transfer to play two sports.”

Weltha didn’t even have Truman on her rader.

Coach Theo Dean reached out during the transfer process and had her come to Truman on a visit.

“I thought that it was too far away from Illinois because it’s, like, four hours,” Weltha said.  “My parents were like, ‘no you should at least give it a chance,’ and then I came on campus, and I got along with both coaching staffs great right off the bat and that was really it.”

Going from one college sport to two was a challenge during the beginning, according to Weltha. 

Weltha said learning how to balance both sports took some time to adjust. 

“My first semester here, the fall, was a mess. I did not do a good job balancing things at all,” Weltha said. “But as time went on, and once we finally did the second fall, obviously the first spring I was here was canceled, so I never got to complete the full year, but the second fall I was on campus my schedule was a lot better, we got things figured out and I was a lot more on top of things with my time management, but the first fall here was definitely an adjustment.”

Even though Weltha played four sports in high school, college sports were much different. 

 “I wasn’t used to college sports being a multi-sport athlete, so that was definitely different, but I think we got the hang of it now, so it’s a lot better now,” Weltha said. 

 A normal week for Weltha consists of both sports, but the hours change depending on the season. 

According to the NCAA, athletes can practice only 20 hours for their designated sport when they are in-season, and no more than eight when they are out of season. For dual-sport athletes, the rules are slightly different. They can stay in 20 hours all year long. 

“In the fall, I’ll have 30 minutes of conditioning and then I’ll either do an hour core workout and an hour open gym with basketball, or I’ll do a one and a half to two hour practice with softball,” Weltha said. “As the fall goes on, I’ll ease more into basketball.” 

Weltha’s average day looks different depending on what season she is in. 

Once basketball starts, she is able to practice 20 hours a week with them.

“I’ll do everything with basketball, and I’ll do about an hour to two hours a week of a softball individual,”Weltha said. “So I’ll just go rep out hitting or rep out ground balls, and I’ll do that, like, twice a week until softball season comes.”

The constant practices don’t leave much time for anything else, according to Weltha.

Weltha has to miss out on many of the social aspects of the sports. 

“When I’m not in season for softball, they’ll all go hang out and do stuff, but I have basketball practice. When I’m not in season for basketball, they’ll go do stuff, but I’m busy on the weekends,” Weltha said. “I would say it stinks sometimes, missing out on hanging out with friends.”

There are still many benefits to playing two sports, Weltha said.

While Weltha decided to be a multi-sport athlete just for fun, she has seen many other positive impacts.  

“Most of it was just for fun honestly, but now that I am doing it, I think that I’m a lot more athletic in more ways than one,” Weltha said. “When you do just basketball or just softball, you’re using the same muscles over and over. It’s a big change of pace going from one to the other, but I think even mentally it keeps me on my toes, and I think both of them help me in a lot of different ways.”

Weltha has loved playing so much that she wants to continue in the future. 

She still has time as a junior, but has plans after college as well.

“I’ve been maybe thinking about going overseas and playing basketball,” Weltha said. “That’s in the air right now kinda depending on what happens. I’m going to stay and get my master’s and get two more years for basketball, so I’ll figure that out but maybe overseas, maybe not, just depending on where my body is once I get there.”

Weltha said that she had many memories that stuck out from her time at Truman.

Like most of the women’s basketball team, beating Drury was her favorite.

“That was such a fun game,” Weltha said. “The place was full, they stormed the court, all that fun stuff. It was a fun game to play just in general.”

Weltha focuses on having fun and continues to play simply because she enjoys it.

Her family has been there to support her along the way. 

“My older brother played football at McKendree, and my little brother is going to come here next year and play football. They kind of understand and they’ve just kind of been, like, on board with it the whole time,” Weltha said. “Especially my parents, when I was going through the transfer process, they were all about, ‘As long as you’re having fun you’re doing the right thing for yourself, like, we don’t care what you do.’ They all say that as long as I’m having fun, they’re all about whatever I’m doing, whether we’re playing well or we’re losing, or if I’m sucking wind, they don’t really care, as long as I’m having fun.”