Students-athletes discuss balancing academics and athletics

Lifting weights, going to practice, training and playing in games and matches are just some of the responsibilities of University of Indianapolis athletes. On top of those responsibilities, they are also required to keep up with their coursework. However, UIndy has some of the best academics for athletes in the country at the Division II level, according to the D2 Athletics Directors Association.

One Hundred and Sixty Three UIndy student-athletes qualified with the ADA for their Academic Achievement Award. To qualify, they had to acquire a 3.5 grade point average or higher, attend the university over the previous four semesters and had to be an active member of the team the past season, according to UIndy Athletics. 

Assistant Athletic Director for Academic Advising Travis Smith helps student-athletes meet academic requirements to stay eligible to play their sport. Coaches also help keep athletes on track, both in their respective sports and in the classroom, Smith said. 

“The coaches help communicate things to the athletes and we put out mass emails, do mass advising also with the individual advising,” Smith said. “So, we just tried to target it from different directions…. Our same goal is just always eligibility and progressing towards graduation, then actually graduating.”

Junior volleyball outside hitter Taylor Jacquay, who was one of the 163 students, said that her planner is her life and that she has to plan down to the minute because of her packed schedule. Because she is involved in activities outside of sports and academics as well, it is very essential for her to write everything down according to Jacquay. 

“I think volleyball makes me stay up on everything because we have to have a certain grade or GPA on the volleyball team,” Jacquay said. “And we have a goal for ourselves and our team and you don’t want to disappoint your team, so keeping a good grade is very important.”

Graphic by Ethan Gerling

Jacquay said it is not only the coaches helping the athletes keep up academically, but their teammates as well. They help keep each other motivated and make sure their teammates know that they can reach out if they need help, because all of them are going through or have gone through the same thing. Jacquay said what keeps her motivated along with her teammates is her fear of failure. She doesn’t want to let down her team, her parents or herself.

“We have that goal, our team sets the goal. That’s nothing to do with coaches,” Jacquay said. “We set a goal for ourselves so that we can keep up on each other and make sure we’re all meeting the goal for the GPA.” 

Senior women’s lacrosse attack Grace Gunneson said that what helps her balance the sport with her academics is simply keeping her priorities straight. She said she always tries to stay ahead of the syllabus so that she is never falling behind and is always keeping track of what  needs to be done. According to Gunneson, staying on track can be hard when the team is traveling to away games, but she focuses on prioritizing the most important items on her to-do list.

“When you have weekday games, we can sometimes miss classes, but we usually get time, whether it’s at the hotel or even on the bus to do homework. And there’s always Wi-Fi on the bus, and the coaches do a good job making sure that there’s a separate time for us to all sit down and do homework and get stuff done,” Gunneson said. “So, if you don’t prioritize what needs to get done and know what you have to do, it can be tough. But if you just keep track of your schedule and don’t procrastinate things too much it’s not a huge deal.”

Most athletes have to fulfill a certain amount of study hours that they are required to go to for their team. These help the coaches and teammates make sure that schoolwork is still being done to help maintain eligibility to play the sport, Smith said. The administration is always trying to make sure that their eligibility is on the same timeline as graduation, according to Smith.

“Our number one goal is graduation,” Smith said “We have one of the highest graduation rates in NCAA DII and we take a lot of pride in that. We don’t have people not graduate. That’s our goal is we want to obviously win and we do a lot of winning in our sports. But we don’t want to do one at the expense of the other.”

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