The transition from high school to college can be a difficult one for many athletes. The games get faster, the opponents stronger and the classes harder.

Tucker Nathans ’11 had the difficult task of adjusting to a college-level sport not once, but twice. He handled the adjustment almost perfectly, becoming a starter on two teams – soccer and baseball.

In the past, two-sport athletes were common in college athletics, but as the amount of time required to play has increased, it has become a rarity.

Nathans said he knew he wanted to stick with both sports as soon as he started looking at colleges.

“I have always wanted to play two sports. I knew I couldn’t choose between soccer and baseball,” said Nathans. “It takes up a lot of time, but I would be bored [without both sports]. I wouldn’t know what to do.”

As a forward on the soccer team, Nathans scored two goals in 17 games, six of which he started. On the baseball diamond, he has started all but three games, playing third base and shortstop.

Nathans leads the team in hits with 29 and is second in batting average at .337. He is also second on the team with a .406 on-base percentage.

“I hoped [that I would be a starter on both teams],” said Nathans. “I didn’t know what to expect. I came in and tried to prepare myself as much as possible and do everything I could to help my team.”

He only practices with each team during the season in which the sport is in play.

“It would have been nice in the fall if he could have fully participated, but he is accustomed to it,” said Head Baseball Coach John Slosar. “He has been doing this all his life.”

Nathans’ Fairfield athletic career began on the soccer pitch in the fall, when he worked his way into the starting lineup on the defensive end.

He showed his versatility by playing away from his usual forward position at which he excelled in high school. At Salisbury High School in New York, he owns the career records in both goals and points.

Nathans made his way into the soccer stat book with a thrilling, overtime game-winning goal in the final game of the season at Fairfield.

After the Stags drew a free kick in the 98th minute of the game against Iona, Nathans came up from his position in the back to take the kick from 20 yards out. Head Coach Carl Rees yelled from the sideline for him to shoot and Nathans did, curving the ball right into the corner of the net for a goal.

His flair for the dramatic continued into the MAAC tournament the next week, when he scored a goal in the first minutes of the Stags’ semifinals matchup against St. Peter’s

The Stags lost, ending their season, but Nathans established himself as a goal-scoring threat for next year. He has put himself in position to help replace some of the load left behind by senior Sam Bailey ’08, the school’s all-time leading points scorer.

As soon as the season ended, Nathans focused on baseball, entering the batting cage and getting in game shape.

While at home Nathans practiced with his brother John, a catcher and former Red Sox minor leaguer who played for the independent-league Bridgeport Bluefish last season.

John Nathans made national headlines last year following a physical altercation with former major league player Jose Offerman, during which he was hit in the head by Offerman’s bat and received a concussion.

“My brother is one of the main people who always helped me with baseball,” said Nathans. “He even helped me with soccer, keeping me in shape. When I wasn’t training with the team, my brother would be there and we would work out everyday. He helped me a lot to prepare for the season.”

In the spring, Nathans started right from the beginning of the season, playing at third base against Xavier in the season opener.

He earned MAAC Rookie of the Week honors the week of March 31.

“By virtue of not being with us in the fall, he has a few rough edges,” said Slosar. “But he makes up for it with his athletic ability.”

“He had no trouble fitting in with the team, which can be tough for some people as freshmen anyway, even talented ones,” added Slosar.

The baseball team got off to a slow start and now has a 8-18 record, but has started the MAAC season strong with a 6-3 record.

Nathans said he believes the team has a shot at finishing in the top four in the league, if they can continue to play as they have.

“We have definitely made an improvement,” said Nathans. “If we can make better defensive plays, we have a good chance in the MAAC.”

Nathans has made an immediate impact at Fairfield and should be a key player on both the soccer and baseball teams in the years to come.

“I love it here at Fairfield, I love the sports, love the school,” he said. “I am really enjoying it.”

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