Benjy Egel is a journalism freshman and Mustang Daily sports columnist.
Cupid is not an athlete.
OK, he’d win a gold medal in archery. Other than that, he’s a short, chubby dude who looks more like a football than a football player.
Yet he seems to do a good job shooting his arrows toward student-athletes at Cal Poly. At least Cupid got things right with football star Johnny Millard and women’s soccer player Cristina Farrington.
The couple met in Farrington’s freshman year during their respective training camps, when athletes from all sports would hang out together.
He was a 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman linebacker, she was a 5-foot-7 midfielder. They started hanging out more and more, and finally began dating about a year ago.
Their schedules keep them busy, with Millard’s business administration major and Farrington’s kinesiology homework, plus daily practices, but getting together is rarely a problem.
“I try to make it to every home game,” Millard said. “We find ways to make sure we’re hanging out a lot. We know each other’s schedules, so we figure it out.”
Football games are usually on Saturday nights, so Farrington can hit the road for close away games. She wanted to see Millard play at Sacramento State in October, but had to cancel that trip at the last minute.
In some ways, Millard and Farrington’s full loads are a blessing in disguise. They both understand the demands of being a Division I student-athlete.
“It’s great because we understand each other’s schedule so much,” Millard said. “We understand the lifestyle we both have. We help each other out, whether it’s tough two-a-days or just having practice early in the morning.”
Maybe that’s why Millard and Farrington both have a history of being attracted to other athletes. Their interest goes beyond rippling muscles or low body fat percentages.
Attraction to another athlete is equally physical and mental, Farrington said. Sure, a great body comes with the territory, but those who play on a team share the same values as Farrington.
“I definitely like the athletic build on people, but I also like the aspect of what being an athlete comes with,” she said. “Like sharing responsibility and being able to manage everything.”
The best part of their relationship is open communication, Farrington said. She can talk to Millard about anything because he has similar experiences.
“I can talk to him about sports things, or anything with my coaches or teammates,” Farrington said. “He’s just kind of the guy I can go to and talk to about anything. He’s my best friend, so he makes everything better.”
Millard and Farrington are not the only student-athletes in a relationship at Cal Poly. One of Farrington’s teammates, junior defender Braelyn Fetsch, is dating baseball player Tommy Pluschkell.
Fetsch and Pluschkell met at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, a suburb in the Bay Area. The two started dating as seniors, and will celebrate their three-year anniversary next month.
When looking at colleges, Fetsch and Pluschkell tried to keep their relationship out of the decision-making process. In fact, Pluschkell was close to attending UCLA with no intention of playing baseball.
“I was actually planning on going to UCLA for school, and then Cal Poly called and offered me a roster spot,” Pluschkell said. “It was just a fluke that we went to the same school.”
Pluschkell agreed with Farrington that athletes tend to understand each other better. Fetsch has lost plenty of blood and sweat on the field, just like him.
“Other people who aren’t athletes don’t always understand how much of a commitment playing a sport really is,” Pluschkell said. “She’s not needy, and she kind of gets how busy I am, because she’s the same way.”
Despite all the upsides, there are only a few other athlete couples at Cal Poly, Pluschkell said. The problem is not a lack of chemistry, but rather time.
Many athletes are simply too busy to date, especially during the season, Fetsch said. Students also may choose just to hook up, instead of committing to a relationship.
“A lot of them don’t want to be in a relationship because it just creates another added stress that they don’t really need,” Fetsch said. “A relationship isn’t really a priority, and they couldn’t really make it one.”
Fetsch and Pluschkell both understand how little free time college athletes have. They try to see all of each other’s home games, but practice schedules and homework take priority.
“I think we’ve definitely gotten better at balancing our time,” she said. “We know when to step back and put our relationship on the backburner, like in season.”