Double duty

Jonah Rosenblum

This story was published in The Weekly, a supplement to The Daily Northwestern

“Can’t be touched / Can’t be stopped / Can’t be moved / Can’t be rocked / Can’t be shook / We hot.”

Every time Arby Fields strolls up to the plate at Rocky Miller Park, the lyrics of Roy Jones Jr.’s “Can’t Be Touched” plays out over the stadium loudspeaker. In high school, Fields would listen to it before every baseball and football game. After using a different song earlier this year, Fields has been turning to his old standby once again for motivation.”It was best to go back to what I know, as my mom says, what got me here,” Fields says. “In high school, that song helped me (play) games. I listened to it before every game, so I was like, why not do it for every at-bat?”

Now, Fields needs the motivation more than ever. It’s a pretty big commitment playing one sport at Northwestern. It’s an even bigger commitment playing two. That’s what the freshman running back and centerfielder has to contend with.

On mornings during the fall and during spring practice, Fields is up by 5:50 a.m. He immediately heads to the football practice facility, where he first has meetings and then has practice from 7:35 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. By the time he shows up for his 11:00 a.m. class, he has already devoted four hours to NU football.

Classes are immediately followed by baseball practice. By the time the centerfielder returns home, the sun is down.

“I get back to my dorm probably around 8:30 or 9,” Fields says. “Then I do homework, take a shower, go to sleep and do it again.”

All the time spent in classes and practices leaves little time for much else. While many NU students use their free time to party, Fields spends most of his catching up on rest.In addition to playing two sports, Fields, like any freshman, must adjust to the difficulty of college classes.

“In high school, it seemed like everything was easy,” Fields says. “Then in college, I’m taking names of classes I’ve never even heard of.”

If anyone understands what Fields is going through, it’s his teammate Quentin Williams, who pitches for the baseball team and plays defensive line for the football team. Fields met Williams when he first visited NU.

“I knew Quentin before I knew anybody, before I got to Northwestern, because I met Quentin on my visit here,” Fields says. “Whenever I had a question or a concern, I went to Quentin, and so Quentin and I have become really close.”

Williams said the freshman is handling the transition quite well.

“I told him it’s going to be tough, and I don’t think he knew exactly how difficult it was going to be,” Williams says. “I told him to be prepared, but there’s not much advice you can give him because he’s really taken it and run with it.”

While Fields has been a professional in the way he has handled the transition to college, he’s had the opportunity to be professional in another sense. He was drafted in the 34th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Atlanta Braves. But he decided it was not the time to turn pro.

He chose this path for many reasons. He knew the dangers of turning professional, getting hurt and finding himself without opportunity. In addition, he wasn’t ready to give up football.”I would love to go play professional baseball or professional football one day, ” Fields says. “Talking about it with my family, I needed a back-up plan, so if something did happen to me, I would have something to fall back on.”

Since Fields spends most of his day in practice or in class, most of his friends are in the athletic community. He doesn’t have time to look elsewhere.

“The athletes here have something in common because nobody else really understands,” Fields says. “A lot of people don’t understand that it’s tough to be a Division-I athlete, trying to manage school, especially at Northwestern, and trying to play a sport. You have guys that are going through the same things that you’re going through.”

One of the closest friends he has made is Geoff Rowan, who plays left field for the Wildcats. The two outfielders have bonded this year over haircuts and meals at Hecky’s Barbecue.

“He’s hard working and a real funny guy,” Rowan says. “He’s very family oriented as well as I am, and I think that’s how we connect.”

Recently, after a tough loss to Indiana, the Wildcats brought a group of special needs children onto the baseball field to join them in a game, but Fields made his biggest impact off the field.

“Here’s Arby with a young man in the dugout with both their feet wrapped up close to their bodies,” NU Coach Paul Stevens says. “The one young man has his hat tilted to side and so does Arby. The kid is saying something to Arby, and Arby is laughing probably as hysterically out of control as I’ve seen him.”

“That’s how I visualize Arby; as somebody who is caring, compassionate and in that situation, a guy that really enjoys the opportunities that he has here and participating in all phases of his athletic experience.”