The St. Norbert College Honors Program is home to many high-achieving students, but many of these students are also successful in the realm of Division 3 college athletics. Specifically, SNC has seen an increase in the number of basketball players that have come into the Honors Program over the last two years. These players are able to offer many insights about balancing their academic and athletic commitments as they pursue their higher education and perhaps provide some valuable advice to future student-athletes.
Two of these current players are residents in Bergstrom Hall, the Honors Program freshman dorm. Sarah Chouinard, a Spanish Education major, and Jordan Murphy, a Chemistry and English double major, are both players on the SNC Women’s Basketball team. When it comes to balancing academics with her athletic commitments, Sarah says, “I think that the most important thing is to be proactive with homework and not wait to do it because being an athlete does require a lot of time commitment, but what is really nice is that most coaches understand that academics come first and are very important.” Sarah also stresses that with the crazy schedule of a student athlete, it is very important to get enough sleep!
Offering another perspective, Jordan says, “I found that playing basketball actually helped me manage my time better; it forced me to get my work done around practice time. There was no time for procrastination, which helped me stay on top of things. I would encourage incoming athletes to do the same.” Jordan also says that in college athletics, “you get the chance to establish strong friendships with teammates and you get to continue a passion that many people leave behind after high school. It's a lot of work, but it's well worth the excitement and joy of being a part of the team.”
Providing yet another insight into being a student-athlete, sophomore Honors Program student Nolan Beirne is currently a member of the SNC Men’s Basketball team. Being an athlete as well as pursuing his degree in Accounting, Nolan cites the importance of time management, saying that “in order to be successful both on the court and in the classroom, I stick to a strict daily routine that includes time for studying, practicing, and recovery.” If Nolan could recommend one thing to incoming student-athletes, he would say that “they should remain dedicated to their sport and their studies, but also take time to participate in other aspects of the college experience.”
Having a student-athlete’s perspective can be very useful, but what about obtaining the perspective of someone who works with these student-athletes in both their academic and athletic pursuits? Corey Ciesielczyk serves as both the Director of Academic Support for St. Norbert College, as well as an Assistant Coach for the SNC Men’s Basketball team. Knowing that it can be tough for student-athletes to balance their athletic commitments with school work, Corey says he always reminds students that they are a student first and an athlete second. The level of importance of these two things is very similar, and during a student-athlete’s season, they do not have much time for activities outside of them. Corey notes that “student-athletes often face the challenge of not having free time like a lot of other students around them”, but he calls the experience of being a student-athlete “enriching”, saying that it is also an important factor that will help students become more employable in the future. Corey especially loves Honors Program student-athletes, saying that they have “shown that they are hard workers, and you can trust them in tough situations. You only have to tell them once to do something.”
Corey leaves us with an important takeaway from learning about the challenges that many student-athletes face. For students anticipating becoming athletes in college just like Sarah, Jordan, and Nolan, he says, “Enjoy your experience. Be sure to take time to enjoy what you are going through before reaching graduation. See it as an opportunity to grow and find yourself. Enjoy the ride because it goes quick.”