By Dylan Perego
Academics and time management are commonly the root of stress that first-year college students face but, for student athletes, academics are just half the battle.
Whether it’s an in-season schedule or an off-season training regimen, student athletes are challenged every semester with the responsibility of fulfilling their academic goals while dedicating themselves to their craft. This can sometimes be a tall order, one that not every person has immediate success with.
Tyler Greenwood, a first-year student on the Humber men’s baseball team seeking a Bachelor of Journalism degree, says that at times last semester he struggled with managing his time between school and sport.
“My time management wasn’t very good,” he said. “I found it very hard, especially on the weekends when you expect to get all your work done and we’re out for four games in London and Windsor, for example. You’re travelling all night, you don’t have that much time, you get to the hotel and you just want to sleep.”
Greenwood added that at times, the impending academic workload weighed on his mind during preparation for games.
“When your mind’s not on baseball, or any sport in particular, it takes away from your effectiveness, especially in baseball, where there is such a mental element. There is a very short leash when you are expected to perform, especially if you are on a scholarship. If I don’t perform, then that just elevates the stress.”
Georgia McIntosh, a first-year athlete on the Humber women’s junior-varsity basketball team, says that a strong support system is key, and she has been able keep a balanced structure between all of her commitments
“Honestly, I haven’t found a lot of struggles trying to juggle both academics and athletics but I have found that I had a good support system,” she said. “My family and coaches knew that I knew what to expect and not let myself get behind because I was so on top of my school work and getting things done.”
Current career and student success advisor and former acting varsity athletic coordinator Crystal Pole-Langdon says that time management is one of the universal tools that first-year students often struggle with out of the gate.
“I would say that one of the biggest things is time management and getting started on assignments early on because the school year kind of comes in with a bang,” Pole-Langdon said. “Some students actually do better when they are in season because it forces them to manage their time better, but time management is an important tool for the majority of them.”
But first-year student-athletes are not left simply to swim on their own after being thrown into the deep end that is post-secondary education, according to third-year student-athlete and Humber men’s baseball player Andrew Thomson.
Thomson spent three years at the University of Western Ontario before his time at Humber began and, as a student-athlete mentor, he holds the responsibility of meeting with athletes each year to set aside goals and plans for the upcoming academic year.
“We have a basic form we go over with each athlete that takes you from where you are at coming from high school, or previous school, and we discuss what your goals are in terms of the semester, any targeted areas that you know may be a problem based off of subject matter,” Thomson said.
“We then go through some options of support that’s available to outline and see if any of them could be useful and flag anything that can be useful for future meetings.”
Thomson agrees that time management is one of the big things that first-year student athletes struggle with, but other factors can come into play at various points throughout a given semester.
“For some of them it’s time management, but for some it’s nutrition during season. Things like eating right and getting meals in between class, especially if they are in residence,” he said. “Also, organizational skills that can pair with time management, just scheduling study breaks and time to work on assignments ahead of time.”
Humber offers its Varsity Athletic Centre for any student athlete to use. Complete with workout facilities as well as areas to work on academic assignments, student athletes can collaborate with peers and seek assistance from the Varsity Academic Coordinator.
When it comes to advice from those currently learning how to manage a packed schedule, Greenwood says it’s always a good time to plan ahead.
“I know it sounds kind of cliché, but get an agenda,” Greenwood insists.
“Get something to write your stuff in so you can stay on top of things. Write in all your due dates, have updates on your phone and use Blackboard a lot. Make sure your teachers are aware of your schedule as well, so you don’t have any last minute conflicts. That’s a situation you don’t want to be in.”