The balance between being a student and an athlete can be hard to manage, but there are some at Wellesley that have seemed to master this feat. Recently, 10 student-athletes from the Swimming & Diving and Basketball teams were named to the 2017/2018 NEWMAC Winter All-Academic teams. This award is given to student-athletes who are in at least their second year of college and who participate in the NEWMAC conference while maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.5 or more.
In addition to these 10 student-athletes, NEWMAC named 24 Wellesley students to the NEWMAC Fall All-Academic teams earlier in the academic year. These athletes came from the field hockey, cross-country, soccer and volleyball teams. Since spring athletic teams are just beginning their seasons, the NEWMAC Spring All-Academic teams have not yet been announced. In the 2016-2017 school year, the crew team received the most awards of any team, with nine athletes qualifying for the honor.
Varsity athletes at Wellesley are expected to juggle over 20 hours of sports-related obligations when they are in season. Time management and organization skills are key to an athlete’s success. Clare Doyle ’20, a field hockey player who received the honor this fall, says that the largest toll on her academics comes from her sports team. “If I want to go to a help room or tutoring session, or even to a professor’s office hours sometimes, I basically have to work my whole schedule around it so that I can be at practice and then still make it to the help room. When classes schedule weekend meetings or evening activities, then I usually can’t make them during season,” she explained.
Despite the heavy time commitment, athletes mostly feel that these sacrifices are worth it in order to participate in the sport they love. It helps that the athletic community is commonly considered as a supportive network of individuals who understand the unique experience of balancing sports with academics. Maya Sullivan ’20 of the lacrosse team describes her relationships with her teammates as the most meaningful friendships she has ever experienced. “My teammates are the people that I can count on in all aspects of my life. They are my tutors, my mentors, my role models and my friends,” she said.
There are resources available to athletes to help them balance academics and sports. Athlete Mentors (AMPs) are returning varsity athletes who help first years with the transition from high school to college. These mentors provide assistance with class registration, give tips on how to manage time and provide advice to first years about Wellesley in general.
Additionally, there are faculty athletic representatives, such as Nolan Flynn from the chemistry department and Joy Renjilian-Burgy from the Spanish department, who help student-athletes communicate with professors about sports obligations. Coordinating issues like missing class, office hours and group meetings with professors can be difficult and negatively impact an athlete’s grades.
Being a student-athlete is an equally challenging and rewarding experience. Wellesley’s student-athletes works hard to balance academics, sports and schoolwork. The NEWMAC All-Academic award is a way to honor the incredible efforts of these students.