College athletes balance many responsibilities

Forum Editor and Forum Editor

For junior Jill Stein, basketball is a job.

“Playing our sport is more of a job,” she said. “Obviously, school comes first since we’re student athletes. That time commitment is a huge piece.”

By balancing out schoolwork, practice, studying and games, athletes learn time management and how to work out time commitments in their schedules.

Volleyball player Erica Fullenkamp said her time spent with the team has helped her adapt to the lifestyle she lives.

“Some days are harder than others, but it’s a lifestyle,” Fullenkamp said. “For me … [I] kind of grew up having to balance a lot of things. So it’s a challenge, but when you get accustomed to the lifestyle, it’s manageable.”

By participating in sports and competing while in school, some student athletes are positive and have enjoyed what they have done.

For football player Matt Johnson, the experience has been good.

“You have a bond with the team and you create friendship and brotherhood that will last the rest of your life,” Johnson said. “You’re also mixed in with [other] students. You might not [have] many other football players in your class, you get to mingle with them and meet new faces.”

For Stein, being involved as a basketball player has taught her life lessons, along with how to balance her life and what will help later on.

“We have coaches that help keep us on track in school and lots of academic advisers that teach us those necessary time management and organizational skills,” Stein said.

For student athletes, being able to balance a sport, school and other things is a learning experience during both the season and off season.

“Wake up, go to the training room and get treatment on my body if I need it. I go to practice for two, two and a half hours. And usually after practice, you’re rushing to class still sweaty and gross. After that, I go to study tables and then go to bed,” said soccer player Danny Baraldi about the season.

To Baraldi, the off season is a bit more hectic than during the season. All in the same day, the team lifts, runs and practices.

Fullenkamp’s schedule also changes depending on the season.

“During the fall season … our focus is school and volleyball. It’s a team understanding that there will be minimal time for personal time,” Fullenkamp said. “And during the spring season, while it’s considered the offseason … we’re still required to practice 20 hours a week, lifting and things like that.”

An athlete’s day is split up into different parts. As students, they have to attend classes and do homework, but as an athlete, they have to attend practice and lifting.

In order to ensure student athletes have their grades up, they are required to participate in study tables.

“Incoming freshmen and transfer guys, we require them to do six hours of study tables a week,” said Mike Pechac, academic coordinator for the football team. “As you grow in years, depending on where you stand academically determines if you’re going to continue with study tables or move on.”

As athletes progress through school and meet GPA requirements set by the NCAA, athletes can set their own study table hours and are not monitored by someone else. They do what other students do.

“Learning Commons is one of the best things in all of the years I’ve been in college athletics,” Pechac said.

By teaching student athletes about time management and how to balance school and sports, students know what they should be doing in order to keep their grades up.

“You gotta understand that there’s time for football and a time for studying. You can’t overdo one because you’ll get behind in the other,” Johnson said. “You have to learn to balance your time and manage it, and you learn how to do it your freshman year, so from your sophomore year and on, you get into a rhythm.”