Juggling Athletics and Academics as a Freshman

Will Rossmiller wross460@uwsp.edu

I think we can all agree that freshman year of college isn’t easy.

You have to do your own laundry, you have to go out and get your own food, and there is schoolwork to be done on top of that.

Then there is the social part of college that can worry students. Will I like my roommate? How do I make friends quickly? Who will I eat supper with?

Now imagine having the responsibility of being on an athletic team along with the uncertainty of being a freshman.

That is exactly what 73 student athletes are doing this semester, participating in a fall sport and experiencing their first taste of college life. “College academics require a lot more work even though no one is there to tell you to actually do the work,” said right side volleyball player Rachel Gasper. “No one cares if you finish your assignment or if you start your homework at midnight every night.”

Golfer Tiffany Boak agrees with Gasper.

“You don’t have the teachers saying when you need to get everything done,” Boak said. “That was something I took for granted in high school.”

Time management is also a key skill for freshman athletes.

“The biggest difference is the fact that you don’t necessarily have a class every single day but you have more stuff to get done,” said wide receiver Logan Taylor.

“You have more time to finish homework assignments but you also have to make sure that you are organized so that all of it gets completed,” Taylor said.

Not only are there big adjustments in school life, but big changes in athletics that make things even harderfor student athletes.

“I found that the majority of the golfers I’ve played against on college teams are much more competitive than in high school,” said golfer Ashley Nickel. “Also, the golf courses are a lot longer and tougher.”

The difference in speed was something that athletes mentioned was hard to initially adjust to.

“In college the play is a lot faster forcing you to have a quicker touch only allowing you to have one or two touches on the ball and pass it off quickly,” said soccer forward Abby Ullrich.

A passion for the sport is alsomore prevalent in college athletics. “The girls on the team are dedicated and are playing sports because it is what they love to do,” said cross country runner Danielle Macareno.

“In high school there were lots of athletes who weren’t doing sports for the right reasons, and they did a lot of complaining,” Macareno said. “The overall positive atmosphere in college is there all the time, which is fantastic.”

A major help to student athletes is that they already have a group of people in place that can help them with the issues of freshman life; their team.

“The other guys on the football team have done an excellent job of making the freshmen feel welcome and feel like they are a part of the team,” Taylor said.

Taylor added that freshman football players stay with upper classmen during summer training camp, which helped them getintegrated into the team.

Many teams almost act like families to each other.

“The whole golf team is very approachable, and I know that anybody on the golf team would be willing to help me out with whatever I need, and I would help them in any way I can,” Nickel said.

“Our team has been extremely helpful with getting everyone adjusted to college life,” Gasper said. “They took us around to our classes during preseason so that none of us would get lost our first week.”

The freshmen student athletes know that juggling their athleticsand academics will be challenging, but in their first couple of weeks they’re starting to get used to it. Ullrich explained that the limited amount of time actually helps in getting work done.“It’s easier for me to manage my time because I know I cannot procrastinate on my homework,” Ullrich said.

Some student athletes find it to be a challenge they haven’t mastered just yet.

“Sometimes practices just wear me out and all I want to do is eat and sleep,” Macareno said. “It is hard to find energy some nights to do homework and get other things done. I am slowly learning what it takes to do my best in both of these time commitments.”

When asked what the most challenging aspect of the transition from high school to college was, the student athletes differed on what has been the toughest part.

“I think that the hardest thing is not being at home,” Boak said. “I’m four hours away and it’s just different trying to get things done.”

“The most challenging thing about transitioning from high school to college is the amount of work you have to put into your assignments,” Nickel said. “Writing college level essays is pretty difficult.”

“The biggest challenge has been dealing with all the free time,” Gasper said. “There is so much time it’s hard to always focus on school and making sure you get everything done when you just want to hang out with your friends.”

Macareno explained the most challenging element of college life was all the change that happened so quickly.

“We left our families, our hometowns, our friends and everything we know,” Macareno said. “I had to learn to live with another person that I barely knew. On top of all this we had to make all new friends right away as well.”

“Humans thrive on routine, and when you change their routine it tends to create some chaos. Once you get over the hump of all the new things, it is just like being at home,” Macareno said. “My transition went really easily, and I love it here.” 

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