Ignore stereotypes: Student-athletes’ lives far from cushy

Some student-athletes at the University of Detroit Mercy are frustrated because they feel misunderstood by their fellow, non-athlete students.

It may not seem difficult playing your favorite sport, but there is much more to it for student-athletes on campus – from tight schedules to pressure to success athletically.

“We have conditioning from 7-7:30 a.m., individual practices from 7:30-9 a.m. and practice from 12:30-1:30 p.m.,” said senior lacrosse player Amanda Guthrie. One “Sunday we left at 4 in the morning for Pittsburgh, played three games and made it home by midnight.”

It may seem as though student-athletes are skipping class when in reality they are on the road for away games.

Student-athletes are not just “playing hooky.” They are required to make up their missed work on the road, in between practices and at all hours of the night.

“It’s really hard to keep your schedule straight,” said Lauren Sharkey, a sophomore lacrosse player. “You need to manage your time well.”

Unfortunately, one stereotype about athletes is that they are lazy students on full athletic scholarship.

As a matter of fact, slacking on school work is not even an option because most are academically financed but not all are given full rides.

“Even though I have some money from soccer, most of my scholarship is from academics,” said senior soccer player Sara Zawacki. “Academics have to be top priority for me because of this.”

The university has set several guidelines for student-athletes to make sure that they know that studies are first and foremost.

For example, players are required to log a certain number of study hours at the Student Success Center.

“Being a student-athlete is beneficial but also a lot of work,” said lacrosse player Taylor Marshell. “It prepares you for the real world and teaches you how to manage your time.”

UDM holds its athletes’ graduation success rates as the ultimate trophies, proving that students are still able to succeed academically while competing in the Horizon League as an athlete.

In recent years, graduation success rates included six teams with perfect scores (women’s cross country, women’s track and field, women’s fencing, women’s golf, women’s tennis, men’s fencing and men’s golf).