Athletics and academics, a balancing act

It’s that time of the semester. After weeks of coasting through lectures and readings, you now have a presentation on Monday, a paper due on Tuesday, and two midterms on Friday—oh shit! And that assignment due on Thursday.

That’s right, folks, it’s hell-week season, so much to do, but not enough time to get it done. Now, imagine adding 10 hours of practice, four hours of matches, and countless extra hours of training and film study to that week. This hectic schedule is just another week in the life of a Mount Allison varsity athlete.

The delicate balance between academics and athletics is nothing new to fourth-year Mountie basketball forward Brad Fuller. “You really have to try to schedule out your whole week ahead of time,” Fuller said. “The key is to stay on top of everything.”

Fuller stressed the importance of scheduling due to how little free time basketball leaves him. “[Basketball takes up] about 15 hours per week, and the season goes from the first of September all the way to mid-March,” Fuller said.

Fuller reflected on one specific time his commitment to both athletics and academics affected him. “I remember one time second year [when] we had practice Monday night and I had three midterms the next day. [I] ended up not doing too well on the midterms,” Fuller said with a smile.

Although he admits that more free time to study would be helpful, Fuller believes the amount of time he dedicates to basketball has had a positive impact on his studies. “I feel like sports [gives] me discipline to do my work. If I had too much free time on my hands, I might tell myself I’d study, but I wouldn’t necessarily do it,” he said.

KEEPING UP WITH ATHLETIC AND ACADEMIC DEMANDS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. Logan Milne/Contributor
KEEPING UP WITH ATHLETIC AND ACADEMIC DEMANDS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. Logan Milne/Contributor

Third year Jillian Edwards stepped away from her position as a guard on the Mounties women’s basketball team this year.

While Edwards acknowledged all of the benefits varsity sports offer, she also feels there is a downside to the level of commitment they require.

“The negative side is the amount of time it takes out of your day-to-day life, whether that is study time, social time or time away from other school-related activities,” she wrote over Facebook.

After two years on the varsity basketball team, Edwards decided to give up the sport she loves for a variety of reasons, but she emphasized that academics played a role.

“The conflict between basketball and school did play a part in my difficult decision to leave the team,” Edwards said via Facebook. “Going into my third and fourth year with hopes of continuing my education after Mount Allison, I realize that dedicating my time to schoolwork would pay off in the end.”

While both Fuller and Edwards seem to agree that varsity athletics certainly cuts into study time, that has not stopped many Mt. A athletes from thriving academically.

In 2015-2016, an astonishing 73 Mounties were named academic all-Canadians, an honour given to varsity athletes who maintain at least a 3.7 GPA.

Many Mt. A students dedicate time to extracurricular activities and campus life, and our Mounties are no exception.

Varsity athletes commit so much time to their craft, at a cost. Fuller, at least, was very quick to say it is all worth it.

“Being able to have the opportunity to play the sport I love while attending university is what makes [the experience] worth it,” Fuller said. “And I like to think if the only thing I have to complain about is having a busy schedule, then I’m living a pretty good life.”

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