It was well perceived and well conceived. It was also well coordinated. Partly because its origin was based on past precedence.
It is being billed as Lebanon Valley College’s ‘great two-way athletic experiment’. And while the overall success of the project has yet to be determined, the completion of Phase One went better than anticipated.
Actually, the true power of the plan lies in its ability to create learning opportunities and forge new frontiers. Isn’t that what college – and sports – is really all about?
Braden Bohannon, a Flying Dutchmen freshman and a 2021 graduate of Elco High School, is both the test subject and student. Through his own personal hypothesis, Bohannon hopes to prove that juggling the sports of football and basketball, along with course work in the field of exercise science, can produce the ultimate college experience.
“That was a very big factor in my decision,” said Bohannon. “That’s kind of what separated LVC from other Division Three schools in my mind. I don’t really know if I have a favorite (sport). I don’t know if I’ve ever gone a year without playing those two sports. If I didn’t come up here, I knew I’d have to give up one of them. It was a very big factor in my decision.
“A couple of the PSAC (Division Two) schools were looking at me for football and a couple of Division Three schools wanted me to play basketball, but it never really came up about playing both,” continued Bohannon. “I think the reason that LVC wanted me to play both is that they had seen me play. I’ve been around both. In my mind, I would’ve been willing to go where I could play the earliest and where they needed me the most. LVC was close to home, and I really thought I was going to enjoy it.”
If the recently completed football season is any indication, Bohannon made the right choice.
Freshmen starting at quarterback on a college football team is rare, even on the Division Three level. But Bohannon made the transition from high school smoothly, starting from Day One and helping the Flying Dutchmen to a 5-5 mark this fall.
“I was hoping for a chance to play, but I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Bohannon. “I wanted to see the field. There was no point in my life where I’ve sat and watched. Coming in, you really don’t know what to expect. Part of it was just going to college and meeting new people, but eventually I got to know my teammates and got to know the new offense. But it was a lot early on.
“There was a little frustration coming into camp, not knowing if I’d play or how much I’d play,” Bohannon added. “It took a while for me to get used to it and acquainted with the guys. But I think I’ve had a pretty good year. There were things we could improve on, but there were also things we could be proud of.”
Starting all ten games this fall, Bohannon rushed 155 times for 685 yards and five touchdowns. He also completed 92 of his 225 pass attempts for 1,095 yards, seven touchdowns and nine interceptions.
“Coming here, I knew I had to had to focus on throwing the ball,” said Bohannon, who in some games attempted more passes than he did in his entire senior season at Elco. “I’m constantly throwing at practice and I think that helped. Throwing the ball in college is very important, and I think it can get a lot better too. I knew I could do better.
“I would say it’s a progression,” Bohannon continued. “Each week we worked on getting better. We played well against King’s offensively, and after the bye week, we played well (against FDU-Florham). But I don’t think we ever completely got there. You just have got to get better everyday.”
Now for Bohannon, with little time to rest or even catch his breath, it’s on to basketball. The Lebanon Valley College men’s basketball team opened its 2021-22 season on November 6, and the Flying Dutchmen currently stand at 1-2.
“In high school, even if you made the playoffs in football, you still had some time before basketball practice started,” said Bohannon. “Here, basketball has already started. That’s probably the biggest thing, there are no gaps in there. That’s going to be the biggest adjustment.
“I’ll be in-season from August 13 through the middle of February,” added Bohannon. “I think that’s the most difficult thing for me. I know it’s going to be difficult, but I think hopefully I’ll be alright.”
Bohannon has attended some informal walk-throughs and team meetings with the Lebanon Valley’s men’s basketball team, but it will take some time for him to carve out a hoops role. Perhaps a good, realistic goal for Bohannon would be for him to have a similar impact on the Flying Dutchmen basketball season.
“I think I’ll just try to get into the gym as much as possible,” said Bohannon. “It’ll take a week or two to get used to the different kind of running and conditioning. The team has a short break coming up over Thanksgiving and that’ll be a good time to get myself ready. It should come back pretty quickly.
“The team had a really good season last year,” continued Bohannon. “The goal would be to build upon that and have a good season again. For me, I just want to do the best I can. I’ve been at practices, watching and learning. I just have to get used to the way Coach wants me to play. As the season goes on, I think it’ll come back to me.”
As rare as playing two college sports is, Bohannon has some experience of balancing life with sports and classes to fall back on. At Elco, he played four sports – football, basketball, baseball and track and field.
“I had the option to live at home or live on campus, and I chose to live on campus,” said Bohannon. “A couple of people who went to Elco commute to LVC. I just thought it would be easier to live on campus, especially with the two sports. I just wanted to get away a little bit. I really enjoy it. Home is close enough that if I want to go, I can easily do it.
“It’s been a good football season and I’m excited for the upcoming basketball season,” concluded Bohannon. “I’m excited for the upcoming football season and the upcoming basketball season, for the next four years. It’s a great experience. I’m just excited to be here.”