Park City athletes double down on athletics | ParkRecord.com

Park City athletes double down on athletics

Mackenna Doilney and Stephanie Burnham juggle the demands of school and two varsity sports in one season

Park City High School sophomore Stephanie Burnham, left, competes in the Class 4A girls 3-mile cross country championships. Burnham said naps and snacks are crucial for her recovery process while competing in two varsity sports in the same season.

Park City High School students Mackenna Doilney and Stephanie Burnham pack two sports into one season. This fall, both played varsity soccer and raced on the varsity cross country team for Park City High School.

"It was really tough, especially with all the classes I'm taking." Doilney said after finishing 35th overall in the Class 4A state cross country meet in Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. "It's hard to leave practice and go straight to a cross country meet and then after that go home and do all my homework."

To make her complicated schedule work, Doilney said she spends a lot of time talking with her coaches and teachers to make sure she has time for everything.

"Some weeks it's fuller than others," she said of her planner. "Some weeks I feel like I have so much stuff going on I totally forget about it."

Burnham, who ran cross country last season and finished 90th overall on Wednesday, had a simple method for staying above water.

"Just don't do homework," she said. "Just kidding. Once I get home I have to do my homework right then."

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Park City High School sophomore Stephanie Burnham, left, competes in the Class 4A girls 3-mile cross country championships. Burnham said naps and snacks are crucial for her recovery process while competing in two varsity sports in the same season. (Ben Ramsey/Park Record)

She said sports have actually helped her stay focused through her tight schedule because she knows she can't get sidetracked.

As expected, her rigorous routine has boosted her fitness and broadened her perspective on sport. Burnham said she knows it's not the end of the world if she has a bad race or game, just because she competes so frequently.

According to Steve Cuttitta, head coach of cross country, the athletes run a fine line between fitness and fatigue, so they only participate in select cross country practice events meant to build up their aerobic fitness, while soccer provides the anaerobic training and speed.

"Most of their practice is the soccer practice plus some short runs," he said. "So we're not doing interval workouts with them. … We just try to add a sprinkle of distance running on top."

He said it's crucial to make sure they are not overtraining, which would turn a goal of flourishing in two sports to floundering in both.

"That might be our biggest challenge because they will run themselves into the ground," he said. "We have to be the ones who say 'Ok, we have to back off.'"

The added exertion also requires them to manage stress – which Burnham and Doilney said is done by taking breaks and naps. They also have to eat a lot.

Cuttitta estimates the athletes burn 1,200 calories per hour of running.

"I tell our kids, 'We run on average an hour a day, so just plan on 3,000 to 4,000 calories in a day,'" he said. "When I first tell them that, they think it's a ridiculous amount. But, yeah, they definitely need to fuel."

Burnham said she snacks throughout the day to keep herself out of caloric debt.

"I just end up eating a lot more than I expect," she said. "I'm constantly hungry and every class I'm just eating constantly."

Fruit and small meet and cheese sandwiches are her favorites.

"Little sliders, I guess you could call them," she said.

Now that soccer and cross country have ended, the two are facing oddly blank planners. Burnham said she would focus on her grades to ensure she meets college requirements. Doilney plans on going for a few runs between now and when her club soccer season starts in a couple of weeks.

Both plan on catching up on their sleep.