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The Carletonian

Student athletes weigh-in

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Around campus, there have been questions circling about how athletes are supposed to treat their bodies. Most athletes, through Carleton’s strength coach Jim Jarvis, plan on gaining purely lean muscle mass over their four years on campus. But, there is one team in particular where, for some members, muscle isn’t the only thing they are supposed to gain. These athletes are incentivized to gain muscle through working out, but also pack on fat to make them heavier to compete against some of the best teams in the MIAC.

Our football team has a dedicated training regimen that will undoubtedly help them on the field. But how does it affect their lives off the field?

Two freshman, Michael Bruno ’19 and Taariq Vanegas ’19, are defensive lineman who deal with the issue of weight gain on an everyday basis. Their coach has encouraged each of them to gain about 30 more pounds over their Carleton career, and they have already gained 20-30 pounds since arriving on campus in the fall.

Vanegas, when asked how his weight gain affects him on an everyday basis, said, “I have been a little hesitant to gain weight, just for the fact that I actually haven’t been this heavy in my life. I’m not sure how well my body will support this in the future. It plays into my thought process of whether I want to eat that extra plate during dinner, but I mean it always lingers in the back of my mind.”

Bruno also answered honestly when asked how the fast weight gain has affected him on an everyday basis. “I would definitely say it’s some knee pain,” he said. “Like getting out of cars is a little painful. Like I’m young so it’s not a terrible pain. If by the end of college it becomes a lot harder for me to lose the weight, it could hurt my joints later in life.”

Fortunately, the process of gaining weight isn’t a problem for most football players, especially the ones that came to campus at a weight that was suitable for their position. Most of the contact takes place on the defensive and offensive line, and it helps to be heavier so one won’t get pushed around. Usually the players that play in the trenches are the ones that have to worry about their weight.

Competing in a sport such as football takes size, speed, and strength. In the MIAC, an extremely tough football conference, these physical are necessary to win games.

Vanegas ’19, while reflecting on this past season, talked about his motivation to gain the necessary weight. “Overall, we need the rest of the guys to be bigger, stronger and faster,” he said. “The MIAC is not an easy conference as we all know. We struggled this year. I feel it is necessary to be competitive in this conference to be the same size as the other teams we are competing against. And that’s my main motivation, my coaches’ motivation, and Jarvis’s motivation when he is pushing us in the weight room.”

Bruno ’19 also has the motivation to gain weight. He said, “To me, having the best opportunity to beat these tough teams and compete against these tough teams is enough motivation for me to gain the weight as long as it’s not all fat, there is some muscle.”

Bruno and Vanegas made it seem like this weight gain is inevitable, and in a lot of ways it is.  It is part of the game of football, no matter how one looks at it. It is the way colleges, such as Carleton, compete.

There can be comparisons drawn between weight gain for football players and weight loss for wrestlers. Wrestlers’ treatment of their bodies is quite similar. Wrestlers are supposed to lose weight at a rapid rate, and for Bruno, who wrestled in high school, gaining weight for football is a lot easier than losing weight for wrestling. “I definitely had a much harder time losing weight than gaining weight,” he said, “a big difference is that you need to eat a lot of food to work out for football. For wrestling, I malnourished myself while doing the most hard and extreme exercises of my entire life.” However, while it might be easier gaining weight, Bruno explains that it makes football’s offseason more difficult. “It’s after the practices and the offseason that gets hard,” he said. “Because I have all of this weight on me and it makes daily life harder.” This is the lifestyle these athletes choose to take on. It is a difficult path, but Bruno and Vanegas take it in their stride. According to Vanegas, “The amount of adversity you face dealing with this whole process is definitely worth it in the end to get where we need to be.” Although it might not be the most beneficial to the body, Vanegas does it “for the sport and the well being of my team.”

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