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The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Tackling two sports

Brothers Isaac and Alex Call take on the unique task of playing two sports at the collegiate level.
Bella Haveman
Isaac Call stands in the batter’s box during the second game of a doubleheader against Hamline University at Hargis Park Saturday, April 23. He’s been playing baseball for as long as he can remember. “Going from football to baseball is pretty challenging,” Isaac said. “Especially hitting, because you don’t get to see any pitching and you jump into a game.”

Alex Call stands atop the pitcher’s mound at Hargis Park on a mild March afternoon. It’s the back half of the Bethel University baseball team’s first home doubleheader against Carleton College. Standing 6 feet, 4 inches tall, the redshirt freshman winds and fires a curveball over the plate for a strike. 

Having battled a shoulder injury and being in physical therapy for 14 weeks prior to this, Alex had to work hard to get this start. He not only fights for a spot in the Royals’ rotation on the mound but also for a spot as quarterback for the Bethel football team. 

Isaac Call, a junior outfielder and Alex’s older brother, looks on from the dugout. Together, the brothers take on the task of being two-sport college athletes. 

Coming from a small town, if you were athletic you played every sport.

— Isaac Call, junior outfielder and cornerback

For Alex, that means being a member of the Royals’ rotation in the spring and playing quarterback for the Bethel football team in the fall. For Isaac, that means playing outfielder and designated hitter in the spring and playing cornerback in the fall.  

The brothers come from a sports family background, with both of their parents having played at the collegiate level. Their father Brian was a two-sport athlete as well, playing baseball and football at Hamline University, while their mom Tonia played collegiate basketball at the University of Minnesota. 

“I played three sports, they played three sports. You’re always in some season,” Brian said. “In the fall it was football, in the winter it was basketball and in the spring, baseball.”

Alex Call takes notes during a spring quarterback film session with Bethel University Offensive Coordinator Colin Duling in RC 206 Friday, April 22. He’s been working toward the starting spot in the Royals’ lineup for the fall season while also playing for the Royals’ baseball team. “In the mornings we have football meetings. I’m learning the offense,” Alex said. “Then in the afternoon, from three o’clock on, it’s pretty much just baseball.” (Bella Haveman)

Growing up in the town of Kerkhoven, Minnesota, the pair’s childhood was filled with everything sports-related. They played basketball, wrestling, football and baseball. Basketball was the first choice for both Call brothers. Throughout high school, they dreamt of playing hoops in college instead of baseball or football. 

“Coming from a small town, if you were athletic you played every sport,” Isaac said. 

Everything changed Alex’s freshman year of high school, when his baseball team made it all the way to the Minnesota state tournament. There, a scout from Prep Baseball Report noticed and invited him to one of the scouting events. 

Less than an hour after throwing and being clocked on the radar gun, Alex received an offer from the University of Illinois to tour their campus. 

“From there I kind of quit thinking about college basketball and went straight to baseball,” Alex said. 

During his sophomore year of high school, Alex committed to play Division I at the University of Arizona. But during his junior year, he began to feel unsure about his decision. And after the head coach took a job at Texas A&M, Alex decommitted from Arizona and began to look elsewhere. 

As he began to play quarterback during his junior and senior seasons, Alex’s love for football began to grow. That’s when he started to approach schools with the idea of playing both football and baseball. 

“South Dakota State University and St. Thomas said, ‘Hey, we’ve had guys do this, but just know that it’s going to be extremely difficult,’” Alex said. “And your chances of playing aren’t that high.” 

Wanting to pursue the two-sport option, Alex began to look to Division III, where his brother had been given the opportunity to do the same thing at Bethel University. 

Isaac lashes a double into the left field corner at Hargis Park as the team’s designated hitter for the opening game of a doubleheader against Hamline University Saturday, April 20. It’s the third time he has cracked the starting lineup in his junior season, and the first against the school his dad played for: Hamline. 

Isaac’s uncles, Zach and Jen Nelson, were the ones that helped him get into baseball. Isaac spent summers watching them play town ball for the Raymond Rockets, and his dad pushed him to play both baseball and football throughout high school.

He received offers to play Division I football at the University of North Dakota. He received offers to play Division II from Concordia St. Paul and the University of Minnesota Duluth. He had an offer to play Division II baseball at South Dakota State University. But none of the schools wanted him to play both. Not until Bethel called. 

“Some of the other schools bragged about how many wins they had each year, how many championships they had,” Isaac said. “But [at Bethel] they talked about how they wanted you to grow as a person spiritually and grow you into a better man.” 

With that, Isaac committed to playing both baseball and football at Bethel.

Alex made his way to Bethel after attending his brother’s football games. At the games, he got to know the Bethel coaching staff and experienced the atmosphere of the team. They also gave him the option to play both the sports he wanted. 

“I think the fact that Alex had the opportunity to see Isaac and how much he was enjoying that college experience … that was more important,” Brian said. “More important than moving to another part of the country to play one sport. Playing two sports with his brother became more of a priority.”

Beyond having the opportunity to pursue two sports, the Call brothers get to play together as teammates for the first time since high school. Playing on opposite sides of the ball in football and baseball allows for competitive practice sessions. 

“I don’t think he has a pick on me yet,” Alex said. “But he’s waiting for it.”

Isaac Call steps into the batter’s box at Hargis Park during the second game of a doubleheader against Hamline University Saturday, April 23. In 16 at-bats this season, Isaac is batting .394, with two homers and eight runs batted in. While on the football field, he amassed 44 total tackles and three interceptions in 11 games played in 2023. “I always kind of wanted to play two sports. There were some schools that were really open to it,” Issac said. “Then I visited the bigger schools and they kind of shut it down, wanting you to focus on just baseball or football.” (Bella Haveman)

On the baseball field, live at-bats are where the two compete against each other. They try to see who can get ahead in the count and either strike out or get a base hit. 

“It’s just friendly banter, like friendly competition, but also … it’s my brother,” Alex said. “And it’s a lot more fun to do it with him than some other guy.” 

During the summer, Alex and Isaac play together on the Raymond Rockets baseball team, the one they used to see their uncles play on. 

The summer rolls right into August football practice, which turns into the fall season, where Alex competes for a role as the starting quarterback. Alex’s freshman season was derailed by a torn ACL and a yearlong recovery, leading to a medical redshirt and an extra year of eligibility.

He looks to build off of the 2023 season, where he earned the starting job out of camp before suffering a concussion three games into the season. 

Opposite him in practice on defense is Isaac, patrolling the secondary, looking to pick him off and get the upper hand in their competition. A year-round multi-sport rivalry, the brothers wouldn’t have it any other way.

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About the Contributors
Christopher Wrzesien, Staff Reporter
CJ Wrzesien, 24, is a communication major and journalism minor. He enjoys watching baseball, playing the guitar and playing the immaculate grid daily. If you need random sports information he's your guy. [email protected] | 407.937.9251
Bella Haveman
Bella Haveman, Staff Photographer
Bella Haveman, 19, is an art and English double major with an emphasis in creative writing. She enjoys reading, listening to music and exploring new places. She loves traveling to different countries and adding to her fan and earring collection. She is currently trying to discover all the coolest coffee shops in the Twin Cities.  [email protected] | 515-520-4142
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