SIOUX CENTER, Iowa | Chris Soodsma is known as "The Rollerblades Guy" on the Dordt College campus.
The sophomore from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada, glides from building to building for classes, weaving among his peers in a pair of untied in-line skates.
"I don't tie them, because it works to strengthen my ankles," Soodsma says.
It also gets him from place to place with greater speed. He needed them on Nov. 16, a day Soodsma went from playing football for the Defenders to playing varsity hockey for the Dordt Blades.
While participating in two sports isn't entirely uncommon for student-athletes attending Siouxland colleges, taking part in two varsity sports on same day is a stretch. The last one at Dordt to do it was Jake Esselink, a Defenders defensive end who skated for the Blades, and did so on the same day a couple of times, according to Mike Byker, Dordt's sports information director. (Esselink then played lacrosse in the spring at Dordt.)
Soodsma, a wide receiver, appeared on offense and special teams against Dakota Wesleyan, the final game of the Defenders' 2-9 football campaign. He shook hands with his opponents and thanked his senior teammates for the leadership the provided in their final season.
And, in minutes, Soodsma was skating on home ice for the Blades, getting credit for one assist in a 4-1 loss to Iowa State in a game at the All Seasons Center.
"I got into the change room (locker room) after our last football game and someone told me to hurry up because I'd been added to our hockey roster," Soodsma says. "My blades were still being sharpened."
Soodsma hustled and grabbed his hockey uniform. He entered the All Seasons Center while either the "National Anthem" or "O Canada" was being sung. A few minutes later, he entered the game.
"I was still wearing my eye-black from the football game," Soodsma says with a smile. "Our opponents probably didn't understand why a guy would be wearing eye-black in hockey."
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Soodsma's mother, Corrine Soodsma, had made the 23-hour drive from their Rocky Mountain House home to see her son play football. She then entered the All Seasons Center expecting to find him watching the hockey action from the bleachers. After all, her son hadn't practiced hockey to this point. He wasn't supposed to until football ended.
Well, football was over now.
"She was looking for me and I waved to her as I stood on the ice," Chris Soodsma says, noting his mother got to see his power-play assist during the third period.
Soodsma says being able to play two sports makes his stay at Dordt College extra special. Like most native Canadians, he rates hockey as his favorite sport with football and close second. Being able to do both on the collegiate level played a role in his choosing to enroll at Dordt, where he's a physical education major.
It can be taxing on the body, however. Dordt began football drills during the second week of August. The hockey season won't end for about three months. That means Soodsma will be practicing and playing varsity level competition for six straight months. Whew.
That's OK, he says, as prepping mind and body for any sport on the college level involves a 12-month commitment.
Can he rest back at home once classes dismiss for the summer? Not really. Soodsma co-manages the family business each summer. It's a landscaping firm known for its own laborious commitment.
"Believe it or not, school-time is a holiday for me," he says.
A break from all the hard work.