Woodbury football: Radtke pulling double duty for RoyalsIt’s nearly halftime, which means it’s time for Eli Radtke to begin loosening his pads.
By: Mike Longaecker, Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
It’s nearly halftime, which means it’s time for Eli Radtke to begin loosening his pads.
The Woodbury High School senior stands on the sidelines with his Royals teammates and watches the football team’s first half draw to a close. He loosens his shoelaces as the seconds tick down.
The buzzer sounds at Royals Stadium. The Royals rush off to the locker room.
Radtke bolts off in the opposite direction. He’ll get no halftime rest.
Instead, the WHS senior sprints toward the bleachers where a change of clothes await him. By the time he’s changed, Radtke will have transformed – temporarily, at least – from football player to marching band member.
“As soon as that buzzer sounds, I transition,” he said last week in an interview.
For two seasons now, Radtke has been pulling double duty at Royals’ home games. He is both athlete and musician.
“When he graduates, I don’t think he’ll have any regrets for time wasted,” said Royals head coach Andy Hill.
Radtke started the unique undertaking last year as a junior. He asked former head coach Beau LaBore if he could be excused from halftime activities to perform in the WHS marching band.
“I just thought, ‘Why not ask coach if I can do both?’” Radtke said.
LaBore agreed, but left earlier this year for Stillwater High School. So before this season started, Radkte again had to make his proposal – this time to Hill, who took over the program over the summer.
They reached a similar agreement.
“I’m grateful that both have let me (do it),” Radtke said.
But Hill made it clear that if his performance was at all affected by the arrangement, then it had to stop.
The verdict? No problems at all, according to coach and player.
“He manages it very well,” Hill said. “It is a cool and unusual thing.”
For Radtke, that also means lots of extra work.
Football practices go from 3:30 to about 6 p.m. daily. Marching band practices from 5:30 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m. So in addition to his busy Friday night home routine, Radtke also has two days a week where he must go directly from football player to band member.
Sure, it can be a little fatiguing, he said. But he realizes that being to participate in both programs is a privilege, so he resists the urge to complain.
“I chose this, so I shouldn’t be frustrated or stressed,” he said.
Yes, he misses out on halftime, which he admits is “a big thing.” Besides giving speeches, coaches use the time to devise and announce tactical changes for the second half.
Radtke said he makes sure to find out what he missed out on once he rejoins the team. Radtke is, however, forced to find his own motivation in absence of inspirational halftime speeches.
“I still get pumped up at the sidelines,” he said.
Hill said he’s come to understand how Radtke pulls off the balancing act.
“It’s part of who he is – it’s not extra burdens (for him),” Hill said.
The Friday night routine requires a significant change in mindset, but Radtke said it’s one he has grown accustomed to and tries to handle with finesse.
He said that usually occurs in the couple minutes it takes him to change uniforms – a process in itself that requires adaptation: Radtke pulls off shoulder pads and football cleats, but leaves his football pants – pads included – on as he performs. How does that work? Simple, he said. He just pulls on a bigger pair of band trousers to accommodate the pads.
After performing in the band, he repeats the changing process, only in reverse. He sprints back to the sidelines to join the players in warm-ups.
“It is a lot to juggle,” Radtke said.
Indeed, one activity calls for raw aggression, while the other requires an artistic touch. That doesn’t make the activities mutually exclusive, Radtke pointed out.
In fact, he said there are similarities between football and band.
As a football lineman, Radtke must remember footwork placement for numerous blocking schemes.
In marching band, footwork also is crucial. Performers must hit their steps and their marks with precision.
“It’s football with music,” Radtke said.