53.2 F
Friday, July 3, 2020

Life on the road for a student-athlete

By Hillary O’Connor


It’s dead week, I’ve got two papers due at midnight and three finals to complete in the next five days, and I’m 1,900 miles away from campus competing in the NCAA National Championship. Welcome to the life of a Western student-athlete.

As a goalkeeper on the women’s soccer team, I know what it’s like to travel during the school year and plan around a demanding schedule. Games can be played as far south as Monmouth, Oregon, as far east as Billings, Montana, and as far north as Fairbanks, Alaska. Once in the playoffs, a team can travel anywhere in the country and are usually only given a few days notice as to their next destination.

Student-athletes can end up spending a large chunk of the quarter on the road.

“Depending on our schedule, on average I would say, we are probably on the road 10 to 15 days out of the quarter,” assistant soccer coach Claire Morgan said.

The amount of time athletes spend on the road depends on their travel schedule.

“On average, I’d say we travel about nine days during the quarter,” volleyball coach Dianne Flick-Williams said.

Women’s soccer team studying on the road. From left to right, Malia Maack, Elise Aylward, Emily Webster, Caitlyn Jobanek,Taylor Hallquist.

Student-athletes have to work at managing their hectic schedules, Garrett Strawn, junior defender for the men’s soccer team, said.

Balancing school and athletics is a difficult task,” Strawn said. “You really learn how to manage your free time in the most efficient way. Balancing both your schoolwork and your sport is doable. You really  cannot procrastinate and put work off or else it will come back around later and cause even more work.”

Strawn was named to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference All-Academic team with a 3.83 GPA as a biochemistry major.

While on the road, student-athletes are still responsible for all tests and assignments. With the limited free time athletes get while on travel trips, they have learned to get creative in their studying habits.

The Sea-Tac Airport has had gates turned into study halls and chairs turn into desks. It is not uncommon to see a Western women’s soccer player with a burrito in one hand and her stats homework in the other at 9 a.m.

Hotel lobbies have also become a staple in the study habits of Western student-athletes. They’ve learned that the Wi-Fi is faster and that studying with teammates of all different academic backgrounds can come in handy when tackling a new class.

Doing schoolwork on the road will never be an easy task, and the time commitment doesn’t stop there.

“What people really don’t understand is all the extra hours that go along with games and practices,” Daulton Hommes, sophomore forward for the men’s basketball team. said. “There are so many other hours doing other things like getting treatment, lifting weights, meetings with the team or individual meetings with coaches, watching film to prepare for the next opponent and finding time to get in the gym to get extra shots up.”

Student athletes have a different set of responsibilities than regular students, Jeremiah Lee, sophomore defender for the men’s soccer team, said.

“The main thing I wish students at Western knew is that student-athletes at Western are just like everyone else, except for the fact that we play a college sport which requires a lot of time and discipline,” Lee said. “I realize there are students who work and have other commitments that take up a lot of time, but I think student-athletes’ commitments to their sport require lots of hours every week.”        

The college experience for a student-athlete is unusual, Maia Barnett, a senior guard on the women’s basketball team, said.

“I feel my college experience is unique in that I am not only a part of the student body but the athletics department,” Barnett, a business marketing major, said. “My experience as a student-athlete has required a much different schedule than most students, but has given me the power to excel in not only college but my sport.”

The biggest difference mentioned in almost every interview with players and coaches were the high expectations of student-athletes. All students are held to certain standards, but student-athletes are responsible for much more than just their academics, Flick-Williams said.

“There is an expectation for student-athletes to excel in everything they do, there is a lot more accountability for it,” Flick-William’s said. “Accountability from coaches, administration and professors. We are telling them they have to perform at a certain level in everything they do because they are being watched, and that’s an added pressure. That pressure provides more stress and distractions a normal student doesn’t have to worry about because they aren’t under the microscope.”

This pressure and discipline surrounding student-athletes has not discouraged them from competing, junior Cody Roth of the men’s golf team said.

“I’m almost always busy working on becoming a better golfer and student,” Roth said. “And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”


  1. Your excellent article ought to be forwarded to NCAA to support calls from several athletic groups to give financial support to student athletes.

    Proud GranTim


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Must Read

Sports: Pros and cons of Seahawks’ NFL draft pick Malik McDowell

Why did the Seahawks go after a defensive tackle with their first selection in the 2017 NFL draft? Coming off...

Resident advisers hold open forum with university officials to discuss concerns

Written by: Bram Briskorn and Questen Inghram Over 300 people packed into Arntzen Hall, room 100 as if it were...

Behind the systems: WWU Newman Center forced resignation of student employee after learning of same-sex partner

Student says she was told to break up with her girlfriend or quit her job

Latest News

Want to change how much you pay on student loans?

By Kiana Doyle Student loans — the daunting subject that can strike fear in...

We should be supporting tattoo artists during the pandemic

Flash sheet by Rodney Smartlowit. // Photo courtesy of Rodney Smartlowit Opinion By Kaelin Bell

COVID-19 restrictions on scuba divers

By Jason James There is one local certified scuba shop, Gone Diving, that must...

First-generation graduates impacted by virtual commencement

By Cameron Sires Western students set to graduate in the winter and spring will experience their ceremonies virtually due...

Study groups still happening despite remote learning

Illustration of people studying for finals. // Illustration by Emily Bishop By Emily Bishop

More Articles Like This