By Chris Riewald
The transition to college can be a difficult time in the lives of many young adults. Living in dorms, trying to make friends and balancing classes can be stressful enough. Now, add in a sport and one can become even more pressed for time.
One measure taken to help with the transition is having all student-athletes participating in fall sports (not just freshmen) come to PLNU around two weeks earlier than the rest of the students, according to Athletic Director Ethan Hamilton.
Another important factor aiding in the transition to college life is the camaraderie formed between teammates of all grades on sports teams.
“You get to meet people and it lets you form a community…the practices and being an athlete helped the transition because you instantly felt a sense of belonging,” said Katy Johnson, a freshman on the PLNU track team.
By the time the first day of school arrives, some student-athletes already know a handful of people with whom they share a connection simply because they play the same sport.
However, once school and sports begin to clash, it can be difficult to balance the two without sacrificing performance in one or the other. Trips for road games can often last multiple days, sometimes totaling a week of missed classes.
“We try to limit as much class our student-athletes miss as possible,” said Hamilton. “We want to allow student-athletes to be students first and foremost.”
Much of the process of figuring out what class and work is going to be missed is on the student-athletes themselves, as they are responsible for communicating with their professors and being proactive in figuring out what needs to be done before, during and after their trips.
Contrary to many Division I programs, PLNU student-athletes are treated much like regular students. On one hand, the Kansas Jayhawks Athletic Department’s website offers a 360-degree virtual tour of McCarthy Hall, an extravagant dorm exclusively for members of the Jayhawks’ basketball team. Meanwhile, PLNU student-athletes live in the same dorms and have the same classes as students.
Overall, the transition between high school and college can be a challenge for some. For freshman student-athletes, it is an important lesson in time management and responsibility. By managing their time effectively and learning how to communicate with professors, freshman student-athletes gain important life skills that will be of use long after their athletic careers are over.
“Ultimately the goal is to get them a degree and to grow as people,” said head women’s soccer coach Tim Hall.
While the transition to college may be tough initially for some freshman student-athletes, it comes with its long-term benefits. But this transition can be a crucial point of growth in the lives of freshman student-athletes as they become more well-rounded and pursue a degree and a successful life after PLNU.