Cougar athletes struggle to balance school, sports

Athletes try to find time for homework while traveling

RYAN MOSHER, Evergreen reporter

For WSU student-athletes, the mix of homework, classes, practices and competitions can be taxing.

A Pac-12 study found that 80 percent of conference athletes said they missed a class for competition during the 2014-2015 academic year, and 54 percent said they didn’t have enough time to study for tests.

“Some weeks are harder than others. It definitely makes you stay on top of things and it’s made me develop more of a schedule,” WSU junior rower Paige Danielson said.

Danielson, an electrical engineering major, has been a member of the rowing team since her freshman year. Throughout the season, WSU rowing practices at six in the morning and again at three in the afternoon, every day of the school week.

Athletes must balance school and sports if they wish to continue eligibility. Although collegiate athletes can choose their class schedule, they cannot choose their sports schedule. Competitors may be forced to miss class to travel for road games.

WSU junior defender Maddy Haro, who is double majoring in multimedia journalism and public relations, said balancing soccer and school is especially difficult with all the time she spends on the road.

“I have to make sure that I’m constantly caught up,” Haro said. “I have to teach myself certain things, and that goes for everybody.”

The soccer team sometimes misses the second half of a school week for travel. They don’t typically return to Pullman until Sunday.

Flights do not get in until after midnight if the team is lucky, she said. They’ll often fly into Spokane after a Sunday game, before making the drive back to Pullman to prepare for the start of another school week.

In Pullman, Haro said she often wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to be at practice on time.

“You don’t get to sleep in a lot,” she said. “It’s exhausting, but we make it work.”

Though not always the case, professors can be understanding of the demands placed on student-athletes. WSU sophomore tennis player Melisa Ates said she was thankful for her professors who are mostly courteous of her demanding schedule.

However, it is still difficult finding time to balance school and tennis, the computer science major said.

Students-athletes can also receive help from each other.

WSU senior men’s golfer Derek Bayley said it’s hard to find balance with the difficult schedule of collegiate golf. Teams compete in two seasons, keeping golfers on the green almost the entire year.

A sport management major, Bayley said he tries to help the younger golfers on the team navigate the demanding schedule. He said he works hard to be an anchor and a leader for the team just like senior golfers did when he was a freshman.

Flying around the country can make it difficult to stay on top of classwork. Bayley said he might miss a whole week of school at a time, and he often must choose between focusing on school, golf and sleep, without there ever being enough time for all three.