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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Student Athletes Juggle Duties, Both On And Off The Field

The college transition is typically described as one of adjustment and emotional turmoil. Students leave the comforts of their homes and high schools to step up into a new world. Making new friends, sleeping in new rooms, managing time without mom and dad’s help and adjusting to a heavier academic load are just a few changes they have to adapt to. Along with that, for college athletes, they have to factor in their sport. The burden of it all can potentially cause stress, depression and over exhaustion.

Jamie Carlson is a double major in sociology and health science. She takes six classes each semester while maintaining a 3.2 GPA. At Stony Brook, she actively participates in two campus organizations, Global Medical Brigades and Choices Grants for Athletes. In addition, Carlson is the Goalie for the Stony Brook women’s lacrosse team.

“I bounce around so much…I know I have to have enough time to practice and do school work,” she said.

When students sign up for a team, they make a commitment to attend practices, games and prioritizing their team obligations above most other activities, excluding schoolwork. According to Courtney Sanfelippo, Stony Brook’s Assistant Athletic Director, one of the most challenging things for student athletes is time management skills. “They have so many more demands as a college student that they have to make time for, without having parents to rely on to manage their time.”

To help the transition process, Stony Brook Athletics has a mandatory Champ Lifestyle program for all incoming freshmen.

The program teaches students anything from time management to good eating habits, very similar to the freshmen experience introduction courses most schools offer.

College sports require a lot of dedication and commitment. In Division 1 schools such as Stony Brook, the pressure for students to achieve is even more enhanced than other divisions.

There are higher expectations from coaches, professors, family and peers to succeed. The level of success in which Division 1 teams are measured by, forces students to continuously perform at a certain standard.

“You’re pressured to play at least at the level you were recruited for,” Carlson said.

Sanfelippo explained how student athletes are held to different standards than the average college student. They aren’t looked at as just ordinary college students because they have a title behind their names, women’s lacrosse goalie or men’s basketball center etc.

“When they come to college they have to redefine themselves as an athlete,” she said.

Playing sports at the college level has its perks. Student athletes get the chance to travel more often than they may have if they weren’t on a team, they receive scholarships, play the sport they love in front of hundreds sometimes thousands of people and become part of an elite group in their schools. But for every advantage there’s a disadvantage.

The average college student goes home for summer, winter and spring breaks. It’s their time to relax away from classes, unwind with friends and enjoy the holidays with family. For college athletes, while other students are going home, they’re at school playing catch up on work missed during the course of the semester and practicing for upcoming games or the future season.

“The stress level for me is my family,” said Dallis Joyner, Center for Stony Brook Men’s Basketball team, “I’m the man of the house and I’m not there.”

Becoming athletes even on the college level means sacrificing a normal college life to play your sport. Students go for long periods of time without being able to visit home or family because their schedules won’t allow it.

“Last year my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and that stresses me because I can’t be there more,” said Joyner.

Developing a social life and interacting with peers outside of sports also becomes a challenge. Teammates bond together and hang out almost exclusively with each other because those are the people they spend the most time with.

Stress, depression and pressures aren’t limited to outside factors in college athletics. Passion and determination to do well both academically and athletically causes students to become their own biggest critics in many cases. For Joyner, each time he plays whether it’s a winning or losing game he finds areas he should have done better.

“I think about practice, games all the time,” Joyner said. “Even if we win I think about what I could have did better to make us have a bigger victory or if I lost I blame myself.”

The self inflicted pressure on these students is deeper in those who aspire to play professionally after college.

According to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) website, “About one in 75, or approximately 1.2 percent of NCAA male senior basketball players will get drafted by a National Basketball Association (NBA) team.

Approximately 0.9 percent of NCAA female senior basketball players will get drafted by a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team. Approximately one in 50, or 1.7 percent of NCAA senior football players will get drafted by a National Football League (NFL) team.”

Even with the slim chances there are students who strive to go pro. One of the frequent fears among student athletes that could potentially divert that dream is injury.

“It’s not so much of the injury, but the fear of re-injury that’s common,” Sanfelippo said.


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