Student athletes struggle with new change to NCAA


Pioneer athletes all share a difficult competitor this year. Time management will be even tougher now that Pioneer athletics has entered its first year of full eligibility in the NCAA.

Schedules have become tighter and coaches are still expecting their athletes to handle the load. But sometimes school and practice conflict with each other, and athletes have to make plans accordingly.

The football team rocked its new jerseys at Fawcett Stadium at its first home game against Hillsdale on September 21. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

“Coaches want you to come early to work on things you would have done during practice if you are going to miss any amount of practice time for class,” said Karli Oprian, a sophomore track runner.

With the cafeteria only being open until 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 6 p.m. on Fridays, many athletes living on campus have complained about the limited amount of time available to eat before and after practices.

“It’s really hard on Mondays,” Oprian said. “I have practice until 6 o’clock and then class right after, so I can’t even eat in the cafeteria that day.”

But schedules conflicting with school aren’t the only problem that athletes have to face.

Maintaining a good grade point average and working hard to their studies is another stress student athletes have to face.

It is up to the student athlete to meet the required GPA, and if requirements aren’t fulfilled, he or she could lose eligibility and possibly have to face losing his or her scholarship.

“It’s so hard to focus on academics,” Oprian said.

Strict rules and limitations on the amount of time you can practice as a team is another reason is why being a fully equipped NCAA Division II athlete is tough. Coaches expect to get the most out of practice time so that they can compete at the caliber level.

“We have always held night practices at Fawcett Stadium on Tuesday,” said junior defensive end Isaiah Smith. “But this year we have added an extra lift on Tuesday and Fridays, and Tuesday just so happens to be my busiest day. I have class, football meetings, lifting and practice non-stop from about 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.”

Despite the tough schedules and new rules, NCAA can have its benefits for the athlete with receiving new athletic gear.

“I was so glad when I found out we were getting four pairs of new shorts and shirts this year, because last year we only got two,” said junior defensive end Darius Givens.

Givens also shared his thoughts on the brand new jerseys his team received from this year’s eligible year in the NCAA.

“These look and feel a lot better than the ones we wore last year,” Givens said. ”It’s nice to know we will be looking our best while we compete in the GLIAC.”

Although athletes get some attention and notoriety along their college journey, it is safe to say that being a NCAA athlete is not always what it’s cracked up to be.

There are numerous sacrifices the student athletes have to make with scheduling and time management that is crucial for an athlete’s success.

For tips on how to survive college as an athlete, check out sports editor Tina Oprean’s blog!


 Tim Woods is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.



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