Student-athletes try to find balance

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Student-athletes try to find balance

Story by Sara

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Spending a week on a trip away from campus and playing the sport you love against some of the best competition in the country seems like an ideal get-away for any college student-athlete.

But as postseason play begins for Baker University’s fall sports teams, it is a clear sign that the end of the semester is quickly approaching.

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Three sports teams and three individuals have qualified for national competitions this season, and while this is exciting for the university, it can put an overwhelming burden on the individuals who made this success happen—student-athletes.

Sophomore Bailey Sosa, who traveled with the women’s soccer team to Decatur, Ala. for the Elite Eight last season, said she always tries to complete her assignments prior to leaving for long trips. By doing this, she does not have to worry about balancing both schoolwork and soccer while she is off campus.

“It is a difficult lifestyle, but I wouldn’t change it,” Sosa said. “The hardest part is just remembering that I am here to go to school. I wish I could just play soccer all the time but sometimes school has to come first.”

Junior Andy Griffin traveled with the men’s soccer team to Orange Beach, Ala., in its final four appearance last season and said making school history during its national run was overwhelming as he tried to stay on top of classes and find time to rest. However, he said most faculty members helped ease his stress during the extended time away.

“The professors were really helpful for me at least,” Griffin said. “They sent me emails every day telling me what I missed in class and what I should look over and study.”

Although establishing a balance was difficult for both Sosa and Griffin, they said their professors are usually willing to work with them.

Through past experience, Associate Professor of Physics Ron Sivron believes some of the student-athletes in his classes can stretch the truth about days they are going to miss. Because of this, he requires students in his class to remind him at least 48 hours prior that they will be absent.

While it is ultimately the student-athletes’ responsibility to contact professors and make accommodations, Director of Athletics Theresa Yetmar believes it is part of her job to communicate with faculty as teams leave for national playoffs.

“I try and be really deliberate about letting faculty know who is traveling, when are we traveling, how will it work if we win for the next round and just continue that communication as we go as best as I can and as quickly as I can,” Yetmar said.

While this communication takes some of the pressures off of coaches and athletes, with so many people missing class, some students can slip through the cracks.

During his stay in Alabama last season, Griffin missed two tests at the end of the semester. He said he talked to both professors before he left, but one still emailed him the day of the exam saying he would receive a zero for being absent.

“She had forgotten that I wasn’t here, so I had to have my coach talk to the professor to confirm that I was actually in Alabama,” Griffin said.

The situation was sorted out, and Griffin made up for the exams when the team returned to campus.

In addition to these classroom accommodations, Yetmar said the athletic department tries to provide student-athletes with power outlets and wireless Internet access while they are on the road.

Beginning this weekend, teams will be on the road as the football team travels to Fort Wayne, Ind., to kick off the national playoffs, while the men’s cross country team is in Vancouver, Wash. for the national meet.

With more than 100 conference titles throughout history and 47 Academic All-Americans last year, Baker University student-athletes are showing that the balancing act is possible.