The life of a student-athlete is by no means easy. From long hours of practice to endless amounts of homework, the juggle between the two consuming roles can be exhausting.
Pioneer student-athletes live just as any other NCAA Division II athlete would. They get up, go to class and end their day with an intense long practice.
Their week days are swamped and their weekends are usually taken up by long travels with a full day of competition.
Instead of having free time to relax and hang out with friends, student-athletes are usually spending any given time catching up on missed school work and finding time to fit everything into their tight, compacted schedule.
“My first semester here at Malone as a student-athlete has been a process,” freshman cross-country runner Ryan Roush said. “I have had to really learn how to manage my time in a different style than I did in high school.”
Freshman’s first start
Roush, along with many other student-athletes, have learned that trying to keep up with school work while trying to excel in sports can be a challenging duty.
From his high school structured schedule to his college in-progress plan, Roush has slowly adjusted into the student-athlete college mode.
“In high school my time was planned out for me a lot more than it is in college, “Roush said. “I have a lot of free time between classes which gives me different options as to what I am going to do with that time. I have found many of my classes to be overwhelming and that is the major challenge that I have had to face this semester.”
Keeping up as being one of the top runners for the Pioneers and having exceptionally good grades for midterms, Roush has nearly survived his first half of the semester as a student-athlete.
“I have had many late nights up working on different assignments that I haven’t been able to finish throughout the day,” Roush said. “This has led to some problems, the biggest being when I slept through the first 20 minutes of my history exam because I was up until three that night studying for the test.”
[pullquote]The thing I have learned is that you have to let God handle it,” Tomei said. “Worrying doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to be open-minded about something bad happening and as athletes; I think we know how to handle those situations under pressure.”[/pullquote]
Freshman athletes have always struggled with adjusting, but the fast pace schedule is no slower for the experienced athletes.
On the other hand, having more experience handling the yearly challenge give upperclassmen an edge on handling thee crazy college life.
“Being a student-athlete is a challenge at times,” junior cross-country runner Emily Tomei said. “But overall, I view it as a wonderful opportunity to get to earn a degree in a field that you’re passionate about while simultaneously participating in a sport that you love.”
Tomei, who is also a nursing major, has learned through her experience the challenges of being a student-athlete, but the busy runner has found out that being open to failure can be the key essence to an athlete’s struggle.
“The thing I have learned is that you have to let God handle it,” Tomei said. “Worrying doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to be open-minded about something bad happening and as athletes; I think we know how to handle those situations under pressure.”
While student-athletes schedules are jam packed with activities from hour to hour, one survival skill each of them tries to possess and learn is time management skills.
“Managing time can be tough because there is so much time wrapped up in being an athlete and a student,” senior tennis player Alex Steinmetz said. “But planning ahead makes everything a lot smoother.”
Another issue for athletes like senior golfer Tyler Light is the travel back and forth from practice along with lengthy tournament and practice schedules.
“Golf is a time consuming sport and a sport you need to practice every day,” Light said. “Our home course is 30 minutes away and our practices are any where from two to four hours. We miss a lot of school because of our tournament schedule and its easy to fall behind in the class room.”
Despite the non-stop running schedule, student-athletes still manage to find some free time.
Whether it is five minutes or so, the busy athletes always look for ways to remove themselves from the chaos.
“I haven’t had too many occasions when I am able to have free time to myself,” Roush said. “However, I try to set aside time. Most of my free time is spent going out for a late night McDonalds run with anyone who is still hungry after dinner, or messing around with guys on the team when I am halfway through my studying, just as a break.”
The stresses of this fast-paced life also translate to the arena of competitive golf and sometimes golfers like Light just need to get away.
“Golf is my passion but people don’t realize how stressful it can be, especially competitive golf,” Light said. “So to give my mind a break I try to play basketball or workout, and if not that then I like hanging with my friends and simply relaxing.”
Keeping the pace
Through the tough struggles, Pioneer student-athletes still maintain an optimistic attitude on their crazy, busy lives.
“I think that I am doing a fair job at handling running and school,” Roush said. “The best part about being a student-athlete is that I never had to worry about making friends. I walked into the first day of school and already knew people and that was a good feeling.”
“Being a student-athlete has led me to become a better student and athlete,” Tomei said. “I have developed this attitude to work harder. If you do your best as a student; do your best as an athlete, and let God handle the rest, you are going to be successful.”
Tina Oprean is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.