While preparing for his junior year in college, Colton Klein has worked three jobs this summer.
A student at NCAA Division III Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Klein has helped prepare meals at a local juvenile detention center, umpired youth baseball games and managed the Carthage athletic facilities for local travel baseball tournaments so he can save money for school.
For Klein, multitasking is just his thing.
Every day, he works on his swing at the Carthage batting facility to hone his baseball skills. The McHenry East graduate was Carthage’s starting center fielder and leadoff batter in the spring.
He also makes time to work on his arm to prepare for a three-man football competition for Carthage’s starting quarterback job this fall.
“People think it’s really hard to get everything done, but it’s really all about time management,” said Klein, a business management major who was the school’s Jack Swartz Award winner, which is given to one male and one female athlete at each College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin school each athletic season for earning a varsity letter in a sport and having a GPA of 3.5 or above. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun.”
Baseball provided plenty of enjoyment for Klein this spring as a sophomore.
He earned all-conference and all-region honors after leading the team with a .441 batting average and 41 runs scored before missing the last six games with a broken bone in his right hand.
“I’ve really worked on expanding my hitting zone … and on being a more versatile hitter,” he said. “I pull the ball and hit it into the gaps more. As a freshman, I was more of a slappy hitter.”
When fall football camp starts this month, Klein will compete for the job to lead Carthage’s spread offense, in which the quarterback manages a run-pass option attack.
“Colton’s a great athlete,” said Dustin Hass, Carthage’s football coach. “This will be a big year for him. He’s fast and quick. He makes guys miss [with his legs] on the field.
Typically, at the quarterback position, you don’t see a lot of that.”
While playing in five games a year ago, he connected on 56.6% of his passes while throwing two touchdowns. He started the season finale, a 38-9 win against Augustana, and threw for 191 yards and a touchdown.
He also ran for a pair of touchdowns last season.
“He’s shown quite a few times that he belongs,” Hass said.
Along with solid time management skills, Klein credits Hass and the football coaches, along with baseball coach Augie Schmidt and his staff, with helping to juggle his busy schedule.
“When I was being recruited, I made sure both coaching staffs were OK with it, and they’ve been great,” he said. “They understand.”
During baseball season, he often does light drills for football in his free time, along with honing his knowledge of Hass’ playbook in the film room.
When football has top billing, the baseball coaches make time for him to bat whenever his schedule allows.
“In college, you have to be a coachable athlete,” he said. “There’s always something to work on. You mature your body, but you also mature your brain.”
Klein, who admits that his favorite sport in high school was basketball, wishes more high school students would follow his path.
“I just hope they understand that they don’t have to do just one sport,” he said. “Some of them just focus freshman year on one sport because they think they’re going to go [Division I]. You lose that opportunity to play other sports.
“It is rewarding that I get to keep doing both,” Klein said. “It’s OK to play multiple sports in high school, and in college, even if you’re not going D-I.”
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.