Combine five days of classes, hours of homework, midterms and finals with frequent practice, games and time spent on the road — the life of a student athlete.
Student athletes are tested academically and athletically on a daily basis figuring out how to balance schoolwork with practice and games. Finding this balance is no small task, however at Lehigh, the athletics department works in conjunction with the Department of Academic Life to create an environment to aid student athletes who feel stressed or need help academically and guidance in time management.
“Finding time to get classwork done in an efficient manner to go along with all the demands of being an athlete is tough,” men’s basketball sophomore Matt Holba said. “At times I find myself rushing to complete work instead of being able to give 100 percent to each individual assignment.”
Holba said getting up an extra hour early or staying up later in order to finish everything is not uncommon.
However, the athletics department recognizes the stress and demands put on student athletes and tries to aid them in whatever capacity they need.
All varsity athletic team members have access to the student-athlete lounge located in Taylor Gym near the athletic offices. This study lounge is only available to varsity athletes and provides a quiet space for them to focus and complete their work.
Athletes don’t have access to any additional tutors than other students. Senior swimmer Justin White said Katie Guynn, the director of student-athlete academic services, is a great vessel to help student athletes set up a time to meet with a tutor as well as use all of the academic support programs on campus to their full potential.
Athletic coaches hold their athletes to high standards in the classroom just as they do when they’re playing their sport.
“It is commonly mentioned that we are students before athletes, and our athletic pursuits are another way we can learn at Lehigh,” White said. “However, it still falls on us as student athletes to not fall behind and maintain our performance both in competition and in the classroom.”
Men’s basketball coach Brett Reed and the rest of the men’s basketball coaching staff do their best to schedule practices at times that don’t conflict with academic schedules, Holba said. Lehigh wrestling coach Pat Santoro makes each player send in their syllabi, midterm and final schedules to the team manager before the season starts.
“Once our manager has received everyone’s schedules, she will consolidate them and send them to coach Santoro,” wrestling senior Billy Ramsey said. “This consolidation makes his planning easier when it comes to lifts in the morning and practice in the afternoon.”
While the coaches do things like schedule according to academic conflicts they also serve as positive reinforcement and support for their student athletes.
They encourage their team to exceed in the classroom as well as on the field, court or mat.
“The coaches highly stress academics,” Ramsey said. “The first week of classes they are constantly reminding us to sit in the front of our classes, take notes, read our textbooks and to see our professors if we notice we are struggling in the course.”
One thing that winter season athletes face is being in season during finals.
While other students on campus are locked away in Linderman Library or Fairchild-Martindale Library, they have to worry about practice and games on top of their studying.
Coaches do their best not to schedule games during finals week, but being in the middle of season, it’s hard not to have anything scheduled.
“During finals if we feel we need to study more or have an exam the next day, coach Santoro just asks that we let him know the day before,” Ramsey said. “But for most people, workouts tend to clear your mind, and that’s what we need when taking a study break.”