Volume 93, Issue 41

Thursday, November 11, 1999


Athletics, academics or both?

Pondering the funding question

The Toronto farm team

Athletics, academics or both?

©Neil Malhotra/Gazette
LEARNING BOTH ON AND OFF THE FIELD. Western athletes walk the thin line of time management, balancing their sport commitments and the pursuit of scholarly knowledge.

By Sean Maraj
Gazette Staff

It's decision time – do you play in the big game on Saturday, or do you study for the big exam? Where do you find the time without losing your mind?

For hundreds of student athletes, competing in a variety of varsity and non-varsity sports and juggling both practice schedules and study times is a basic part of life. The words "time management" for the men and women who take part in Western athletics is almost a metaphor for life.

Every athlete has a different, personalized way of dealing with the constraints extra-curricular activities put on their schedules. Oren Smith, co-captain of Western's men's rugby team, said one of the biggest parts of balancing the sporting and academic worlds is being able to decide what is important.

"It's probably prioritizing what's more important, practicing for a championship, or studying for an exam," he said.

Jenn Kicis, co-captain for the Mustang's field hockey team, agreed with Smith. "It's all about time management. Trying to get to practice and getting work done – finding a balance between school and sports."

Kicis said, appeasing both sides of the coin was about planning in advance on how she distributes her time. "I try to plan ahead, between tournaments and school work. I use time on the bus and in the hotel if I have to," she said.

Co-captain of the women's swim team, Crystal Clark, said sometimes sacrifices, time-wise, are necessary. "There are times when I can't go out, or I have to get some sleep. But [most times] I feel that I can do anything – I go to practice, do weights and still have time to do schoolwork and go out with my friends."

Aaron Abrams, captain of the men's rugby team, said he's adapting to the added weight of being a team captain while balancing school work. "The biggest difference is you have to be more concerned with players and meetings while managing your time– there's always something you have to do."

Abrams also pointed out that as the year progresses, the requirements from both sides become stronger, making things much harder to deal with. "The hardest part is trying to organize yourself. As the season goes by it gets harder and harder. It's hard to focus on school work with a big game on your mind."

Glen Belfry, head coach of Western's swim team, said one of the most important parts of being a student athlete is getting enough sleep. "It takes up time, you need a lot of sleep, there's a significant amount of time spent training which takes up a lot of energy and it's tough to get sleep," he said.

Belfry added he finds it important to try and accommodate his athletes and help them balance their practice time with time spent behind the books.

"We're really keen on [the philosophy that] coming in for a while is better than not coming in altogether," Belfry said, adding the importance of athletes staying fit in the face of an avalanche of school work.

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