By Asia Turner
For most student athletes, being in a sport is a full time job. The daily routine of waking up, eating, attending classes, practicing, doing homework, taking time to relax and sleep can become a blur. But there are ways to manage it all.
Some student athletes have issues with time management and developing a solid work ethic, but for senior speech-pathology major Isla Powell, a member of the women’s lacrosse team, organization is key. Powell set up a healthy diet, excels in her classes through class participation and attendance, and manages her work well. “I’ve gotten into the habit of doing my schoolwork as soon as it is assigned instead of procrastinating,” she said.
Junior criminal justice major Abigail Timmins, one of the rugby team captains, had a different experience. For Timmins, it’s hard to find a proper balance. “It is something I have been trying to figure out for the past three years,” she said. “With class schedules chang-ing every semester and a sport with two sea-sons it’s hard to manage it all perfectly.”
Challenges for student-athletes in Division I sports extend beyond the classroom. Their sport affects many aspects of their life, especially when it comes to being social. Freshman broadcasting major and football player Spanky Dixon said he molds his life around athletics. “Most of my decisions always involve me in thinking and including the pros and cons of how it will affect me for practice or games.” Dixon said that little things, such as staying uplate to watch a movie with friends, can affect his athletic performance, and are decisions he has to make all the time.
Powell agreed that sports are a major part of her life, and said they have a positive impact on how she shapes it. “I’m not sure where I would be or what type of student I would be without the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through sports,” she said.
The tug of war between sports and social life is a recurring issue many student athletes face everyday. This constant battle can put a lot of pressure on their mental health. “Playing a sport definitely adds to the mental strain of be-ing a college student. However, it’s a valuable asset to learn on the balancing and prioritizing of events for out of college,” Timmins said.
On the other hand, sophomore cross country runner Anita Mikowski said that running helps her with her mental health. “When I run I am able to block out all my other problems and think about just running,” she said. “It’s like running is my therapy and without it I would be very lost.”
Though athletes go through trying times like losing games, suffering injuries or challenges with balancing life, many say they wouldn’t change their experience. “Playing my sport has given me the opportunity to meet many new people and develop life long friendships. It has also given me the opportunity to play at the collegiate level while also receiving an education,” Timmins said.
Dixon also said there is a bright side of being a student athlete. “Football can create bonds and friendships that overweigh every-thing wrong that’s going on in your life, and provide you an outlet to release all the built up tension,” he said. Growing up in a single parent home with his mother working multiple jobs to provide for him and his brother, Dixon said football gave him a second family. “I will never forget the relationships I formed from football and continue to form today,” he said. “I will forever be thankful.”
When faced with adversity, the student athletes say they thrive. “My sport made me more comfortable around new people and made me a more outspoken person who works well with others,” Powell said. “This will help me tremendously in the future.”