Recruited senior athletes shift their focus

Competing at the next level requires training, concentration


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Senior Jeffrey Utzinger will be a preferred walk on for the Indiana University football team next fall.

Nicholas Rodecap, Co-Editor-in-Chief

As any athlete knows, championships are won in the offseason. Regardless of the level, the degree of work that an individual puts in away from the field, court or pitch directly translates into results (or lack thereof). 

Senior Jeff Utzinger is committed to playing football at Indiana University. A captain of the Fighting Irish for his final season, he was a vital component of a defense reminiscent of a brick wall that surrendered just 8.7 points per game and tallying four shutouts en route to a second consecutive State title.

While he had offers from universities in the Mid-American Conference, Utzinger said that they paled in comparison to the interest shown to him by the Hoosiers. “IU really put full effort into me, which kind of made it a no-brainer. I was able to go on a couple (of) visits to some other schools, but none (were) like IU,” he said. “They gave me a personalized tour, I was able to meet with (Head Coach) Tom Allen multiple times, and he made it clear that (he) and the rest of their staff wanted me to be there.” 

Utzinger plans on playing linebacker for the Hoosiers, and he said that although lacrosse season is imminent, he is concentrating now on preparing for the trip to Bloomington. “My main focus is leaving this summer to go to IU, even though I am fully committed (to this lacrosse season). I am really trying to get a lot stronger and include more speed and explosiveness workouts while also doing a lot more intense lifting. 

IU really put full effort into me, which kind of made it a no-brainer.”

— Senior Jeffrey Utzinger

“(IU hasn’t) given me a definitive weight (where) they want me to be. I’m at about 218 (pounds) right now, but I know I do need to get bigger, so I am eating a lot,” Utzinger said. Utzinger drinks two protein shakes and typically eats three meals daily. His diet is very protein-focused and is an integral part of his physical fitness, along with weightlifting and speed workouts. 

Utzinger can be found on the lacrosse field when he’s not terrorizing offenses. “I play lacrosse in the spring. It keeps me in shape,” he said. “You’re constantly running, and it’s something to keep my mind off things as well.” 

Compared to the football season, his current fitness routine is much more intense. Utzinger said he does lift weights in the fall, but the rigor is much lower. “During the season, it’s definitely a lot less intense due to the everyday practices,” he said. “I stayed working out and lifting, but I definitely kept it easy. I wasn’t pushing anything too much,” he said. For Utzinger, working out in-season is more maintenance-focused than anything else. 

Like Utzinger, senior Elle Lewis will also be taking her athletic talents to the collegiate level. She has signed her letter of intent to play soccer at DePauw University in Greencastle. Lewis said she didn’t seriously look at any other schools, noting that she liked the size of the school and the environment. “All the girls (and) the coaches (were) super nice. I liked the small ratio of students to faculty,” she said. “I feel like being in a small environment where I can work one-on-one with a teacher, (which) will be better for me and the way that I learn. And the campus is just beautiful.” 

In addition to playing soccer for the Irish, Lewis also plays club soccer and swims and she said she is considering playing tennis in the spring. “During the soccer season, we’d have practice five days a week. After practice, I’d go home, usually go on a walk or a run, do a 10-minute ab workout or something. (It was) pretty much just games and actual practice,” Lewis said. 

She continued, “After soccer ended, I went immediately into swimming, and we’d have two practices a day, five days a week, so that kept me in shape a lot.” Swimming workouts weren’t just limited to the pool, as Lewis noted that the team did bodyweight workouts and went to the gym. 

As diet is a vital part of any athlete’s performance. Lewis emphasized her focus on high-protein meals and other aspects of her diet. “Eating lots of high-protein meals, so lots of meats, peanut butter, eggs (and) also lots of fruits and vegetables,” she said. For other, non-athletic reasons, Lewis has not drunk soda in quite a substantial amount of time. “I haven’t had soda in the past three years,” she said. “That wasn’t just because of sports, but I definitely think that not including soda in my diet has helped.” 

Both Lewis and Utzinger are dual-sport athletes who have been members of some very successful teams during their time on the Hill. Lewis was a member of the 2020 State Finalist soccer team and a captain of the 2021 City championship team that defeated Bishop Chatard to claim the title. “Don’t give up,” Lewis said. “You don’t know until you try.” 

Utzinger’s success with the Fighting Irish is well-documented, although he said his athletic ability is not something he likes talking about. “I’m not the typical ‘jock’ athlete. I think a lot of people know that. I don’t love talking about my athletic ability, just because I kind of like to have fun, too,” Utzinger said.