You come home from practice an exhausted and sweaty mess. With a deep exhale, you toss your heavy equipment bag down onto your bedroom floor and plop yourself down at your desk chair, your back breathing a sigh of relief. You flip on the lamp before digging through your bag and mulling over your agenda to finish your night’s tasks. Your eyes nearly pop out as they fly back and forth between the clock and the list of assignments, your brain setting up mathematical equations to figure out how you can possibly accomplish this all in one night. I mean, sleep is overrated, right?
This is the life of a student-athlete.
The term “student-athlete” is widely recognized as a participant in a competitive sport sponsored by the educational institution in which he or she is enrolled. This generally means that a student-athlete is forced to balance the roles of full-time student and a full-time athlete. This can be a very tricky act to perfect and one that has caused many student-athletes a lot of stress.
“Sometimes it’s very hard to manage the expectations of schoolwork and sports,” junior volleyball player Grace Hern said. “Like when we’re gone and don’t get back late from tournaments, it’s very difficult to get all your homework done. You’ll be so tired when you get back that it’s hard to finish homework, study, and whatever else you have, but in the end it always gets done.”
The Marian athletic handbook has its own policy on the academic expectations of
student-athletes. According to the handbook, any athlete on academic probation will also be put on athletic probation. This means that any athlete failing two or more classes will be barred from participating in athletic competitions until they earn a passing grade. Coaches will regularly pull their athletes’ grades to check and make sure they are staying on top of their school work.
Varsity volleyball coach Amy McLeay is one of the coaches that has gone above the general academic expectations and set higher standards for her players. Often times, the volleyball team strives for a 3.5 team GPA, and because of this, the program has been recognized several times by the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) for academic excellence.
“My players must be students first. I often ask how their classes are going and offer help seeking resources if needed,” McLeay said. McLeay is entering her fifth year teaching social studies at Marian and her second year as the varsity volleyball head coach. “The effective balance begins with making school and their team the top priorities. I always encourage good decisions off the court, which allows for a positive and productive learning and playing environment.”
Aside from the after school panic attacks that sports can induce, many athletes will find themselves missing school during their respective seasons. The golf team is especially familiar with this concept. During the course of the 2016 fall season, the varsity golf team will miss nine full days of school.
“I really hate missing school, because it’s never the same just getting second hand notes or not being completely sure of homework assignments,” junior golfer Mia Soulliere said.
It has even come to the point where the words “no practice tonight” have become a breath of fresh air to many athletes across the school. “When our coach tells us that our practice or game for the night is cancelled, we all get so relieved because we know we can now use those three extra hours for homework,” senior softball player Tara Wanser said.
Typically on game nights, the girls on the varsity softball team do not see their own houses until close to 8:30. “It just results in no free time. If I’m not sleeping, playing softball or physically at school, I’m doing schoolwork,” Wanser said.
Despite the stress, student-athletes are learning skills on and off the field. The most precious of these is time management, and that is something they can cherish for the rest of their lives.