March 16, 2010

Working out

JENN MENENDEZ

— By

click image to enlarge

Doug Jones/Staff Photographer, Thursday, July 11, 2008: Chris Treister U Maine footballer, serves ice cream at his summer job to the kids at Little Steps daycare in Saco.

Doug Jones

Staff Writer

SACO — A brigade of tiny bare feet slap along the pavement to line up for popsicles after hearing the unmistakable music of an ice cream truck.

From the side window of the Good Humor van, a young man leans out with a wide smile.

''Alright, who knows what they want?'' he asks the line of 5-year-olds taking a break from the pool at their daycare.

And so go the summer days for Chris Treister, a quarterback at the University of Maine and former Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist who is slinging ice cream novelties for 12 hours at a clip some days.

Welcome to the summer job.

Like any college student, Treister joins the season's workforce to earn cash for the school year -- a time when juggling the rigors of football and classes allows little time for making money.

From flipping burgers to chopping wood and painting houses, almost anything goes for Maine's football players to earn summer cash.

''It's long hours but on a nice day you can make a good amount,'' said Treister, who'll be a redshirt freshman on the football team this fall.

''Dora the Explorer and Snoopy do well for me.''

This spring, Treister came across an ad in the newspaper to sell ice cream and after an interview, signed on.

He checks in with his boss around 9 a.m. to get his road assignment for the day, usually not returning until after 9 p.m. He's sold ice cream as far away as Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H.

His paycheck is based solely on commission, so he must pay for the gas and rent the van or truck daily.

''You've got to put in work to make the money,'' said Treister. ''I've had different jobs and this job is real cool. There's no one breathing down your neck. No one telling you what to do. You're real independent and it's cool because there's strategy involved.''

The gig allows Treister some flexibility to report to Orono for the mandatory 20 workouts he must complete this summer.

Come August, he'll be fighting to earn playing time behind sophomore Adam Farkes, who completed last season as the team's starter, and junior Michael Brusko.

The job fits into the work ethic fostered by his family. Treister's father Ron runs a marketing firm in Portland and his mother Caryn sells nutritional supplements.

''There's no gimmies in life,'' said Ron Treister. ''He's very lucky and fortunate that he has a full scholarship to play football. But football isn't going to last forever. If he doesn't have a good work ethic now, what's going to happen when football is over?''

Maine football Coach Jack Cosgrove said many of the players who stay in Orono all summer must come up with their own rent and food money -- scholarships only cover room and board during the school year.

''People think they go to school and get free room and board all summer,'' said Cosgrove. ''That doesn't happen here. Our guys pay for their rent. They have to feed themselves. In order to do that, they need a paycheck. You don't want them to stay and train and eat at McDonald's. You ask them to eat properly.''

Treister's teammate, defensive lineman Raibonne Charles of Windham, has spent much of his summer chopping wood for a contractor in Eddington, east of Bangor.

Charles, who switched his major to forestry this past year, was certified to use a chainsaw this spring. The days are long and tiring, he said, but it's work he enjoys.

''Birch. Maple. We cut pretty much everything,'' said Charles. ''It's rough. I'll get out of a workout, go home for a half-hour, get changed, eat and come here to work. Doing that I lost six pounds in two days one week. I had to eat so much to get it back. Then I lost seven pounds in three days last week.''

Defensive back Steven Barker, a junior, has spent much of his summer painting homes in Northeast Harbor.

''It's really nice seeing all the houses down there,'' said Barker. ''I'm just painting and doing prep work for the finish guys.''

Some other football players are working camps or in the recreation center on campus, or doing internships towards their major.

Few get to hand out Sponge Bob Square Pants treats and Bomb Pops all day.

''The best part about it, is countless times during the day I put on the song, kids hear me and they start screaming,'' said Treister. ''I make their day.''

Favorite treat?

''The hardest thing is not eating all the chocolate chip cookie sandwiches,'' said Treister.

For the record, that's $2.50.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

jmenendez@pressherald.com

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