Immediately after Matthew Giudice Jr.'s final race in the Putnam City Invitational on Friday, the Edmond Santa Fe senior will jump in his father's Mazda MPV and race back to Edmond for the Wolves soccer game against Putnam City West.
On the way, Giudice will change uniforms from track to soccer and gobble down his dinner, usually a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
It's nothing new for Giudice, who has been playing both sports at the same time since he was a freshman. Giudice, the Wolves' leading goal scorer the past two seasons, is often tardy for soccer games.
“Usually, he shows up about a quarter of the way into the first half,” said his father, Matthew Giudice Sr., who always is behind the wheel for the crosstown treks from track to soccer venues.
Edmond Santa Fe soccer coach Joe Peeler immediately inserts “Juice” (the name his teammates have given him) into the Wolves lineup when he arrives.
“He likes to go right in,” Peeler said. “He's ready to go.”
Giudice excels in both sports. In track, he anchors the Wolves' 4x400 and 4x800 relays.
“We really depend on him being a leg on the (relay) teams,” said Edmond Santa Fe track coach Carl Hawkins.
Individually, Giudice also runs the 400 and 800 meters, but won't run either race on Friday because of the Wolves' soccer game after the track meet.
“We try to save his legs as much as we can,” Hawkins said.
Guidice is able to compete in both sports because the track and soccer coaches at Edmond Santa Fe are willing to make it work.
“They have never said, ‘No, you can't go do that,'” said Mathew Giudice Sr., a teacher's assistant at Westfield Elementary in Edmond where he works with special needs students. “They have worked really hard together to make him successful.”
Peeler said he would never make a student choose one sport over another like a high-school coach once forced him to do.
“It still kind of upsets me,” said Peeler, who was forced to pick between soccer and baseball.
Giudice's daily practice schedule often depends on which coach needs him the most that day. Typically, he will begin with a track workout, then join the soccer team for the middle part of the practice, then go back and finish on the track.
A few other students at Edmond Santa Fe have ran track while also playing another spring sport, but those athletes were sprinters or competed in field events, Hawkins said.
“That just doesn't take as much out of you,” Hawkins said. “Not very often do you have a kid who wants to do both like Matt does.”
In addition to the high school teams, Giudice also plays on one of the top club soccer teams in Oklahoma.
“I have never seen anyone compete in two sports in the same season at this high of a level,” Peeler said. “And to keep doing it for four years, not to get burned out, it's very impressive.”
Giudice — whose twin sister, Tiara, plays on the Edmond Santa Fe girls' soccer team — admits there are days where he feels worn out.
“I get tired, but I get used to it,” he said.
To take care of his body, he tries to eat right, takes vitamins and frequently soaks his sore legs in ice baths.
“I take those almost every day,” he said.
On occasion, Guidice is forced to choose between a soccer game and a track meet because the distance between them are too great.
His decision always is made based on where he is needed the most, but he admits that soccer is his personal preference.
“I grew up playing soccer, and it's always been my favorite,” he said.
Peeler has not had another player or parent express any resentment at the arrangement.
“That's because Juice does it the right way. He never abuses it,” Peeler said. “It's not like he is being lazy about it.”
Giudice has accepted a scholarship to play soccer in Hastings College, Neb., where he also is going to run track.
But soccer will be in the fall, and track is in the spring in college. “I'll be looking for something else to do,” Giudice jokes.
A big decision possibly looms down the road if Edmond Santa Fe advances to the Class 6A state championship soccer game. It's played on the same day as the Class 6A state championship track meet.
“I'm personally kind of worried,” Hawkins said. “I am wondering what is going to happen if we both make it. Matt will do whatever he can to compete at both. I know that.”
Giudice often gets asked which sport he would choose.
“I don't know,” he said. “I think I would choose soccer because I have never been in a high school soccer finals.”