Before It’s Too Late: 4 Life Lessons for Student Athletes

Jordan Bock, Writer

Going off to college can be both stressful and exciting. Stress is amplified for students that continue to compete in college athletics.  A group of Marian University seniors reflected on their time as college student-athletes and offered some advice from lessons they’ve learned. 

  1. You will face challenges and learn to overcome adversity.

Participating in college athletics adds complexity to one’s life.  Not only do students have to juggle the pressure of keeping grades up, but they are also expected to practice, lift weights, and attend numerous different team activities (volunteering, fundraising, etc.), while attempting to still have a social life.   

Meg Hartzell is a senior, all-conference women’s tennis player at Marian University.  Hartzell said, “My biggest challenge I faced would be time-management; trying to juggle school, homework, being an athlete, and still managing to have a social life.” 

Senior tennis captain, Meg Hartzell

Hartzell found success not only on the court, but in the classroom too.  The honor student boasts a 3.98 GPA, and is in route to a degree in elementary education.  “Through prioritizing, I have been able to find a routine that works for me.” 

Time management is a critical skill to learn.  

Senior golf captain, Allie Grosenick said her biggest challenge at Marian is, “staying up to date on all my assignments and classes.”

Senior golf captain, Allie Grosenick

The rigorous schedule consisting of practices, competitions, and team activities further press the obstacle of time management.  “While golf isn’t a long season, it is a busy season. It’s not like we were done in an hour or two. We played every weekend, each round was anywhere from four to six hours,” explained Grosenick.  Given hectic athletic agendas, it is critical for student-athletes to find a balance in order to maximize their success and enjoyment on and off the field in college. 

For others, adversity comes from injuries.  Senior baseball captain Matt Nordlund has been troubled by various injuries throughout his entire career.  “The constant battle with injuries has been my biggest battle both physically and mentally.” Last year, the outfielder took home the most prestigious award at Marian University, the Joshua Stuhr award, recognizing a student that has overcome a career-threatening injury.  Nordlund explained how he has grown as a person through his battle with injuries. “I’ve had to work very hard to come back from each injury, and work even harder mentally to tell myself it will be worth it if you continue to put in work.”  

Whether it is a major injury or finding a way to balance your time to achieve both academic and athletic excellence, collegiate athletics will challenge you.  It is important that athletes continue to keep battling through these challenges.  Not only will it be worth it in the end, but it will also help you grow into a better person.

  1. It will shape you into a better person.

 Your experiences as a collegiate athlete will shape the type of person you become over the next four years.   

Senior women’s soccer captain Jenna Wojahn said, “Being a student-athlete has shaped me into a better leader on and off the field. I have learned to keep my head up during the losses in life while still staying humble with the wins.”  While she has grown into a stronger leader, she said that playing soccer has helped her become more supportive and respectful towards others and has made her more resilient in every aspect of life. 

 “Being a collegiate athlete has taught me leadership, sportsmanship, perseverance, and endurance, said senior golfer Allie Grosenick.  She has used these qualities to help her develop into one of the team’s best players.   

Aside from the skills and qualities that you will become a part of something bigger than yourself; you will become a part of a family.  “Being a student-athlete is being part of another family; I have formed so many amazing relationships that will last longer than college,” stated tennis player Meg Hartzell. 

Senior baseball captain, Matt Nordlund

Senior baseball slugger Matt Nordlund said that baseball has given him the opportunity to “work as a team with all different kinds of people.”  The bonds that you form with your teammates will go far beyond the last time you take off your jersey.  

  1. You will make mistakes.

There is one thing that is inevitable; you will make mistakes.  Here are a few accounts of the mistakes that some of the best athletes to ever step on campus have made in their time at Marian.   

Jill Schneider has been an impact player on the Marian women’s hockey team since her freshman year, tallying 23 points in her first three years as a Sabre.  Schneider explained, “I sent a negative text to my coach after a game once. Not only did it get me in trouble with my coach but also my teammates and friends.”  Schneider said that her communication skills have improved because of the incident.  

Senior hockey player, Jill Schneider

Senior tennis player Meg Hartzell’s commute from Fond du Lac to her hometown of Oshkosh, Wisconsin takes less than an hour she said, “My biggest regret was going home most weekends my freshman year.”  Hartzell suggests that incoming students will make more friends if they stay on campus on the weekend.   

 Matt Nordlund said, “I regret not putting every single thing I had into the game before I had injuries and could not anymore.”  It is important that you give 110% all the time, because in the blink of an eye, your career can change.   

Whether it is a text or social media post, not branching out, or not working as hard as you can, it is important to remember that you will make mistakes. 

  1. You will learn a lot about yourself.

 Every day you will have the chance to grow and develop with people that will become some of your best friends.  This article has featured the words from many of the best athletes to compete at Marian over the last three years.  Below you will find useful quotes.

Senior soccer captain, Jenna Wojahn

Always believe in yourself, but also believe in others. You never know when itll be your last game, so play every day like itll be your last. Enjoy it while you still can.– Jenna Wojahn 

Prove yourself; If you want a spot on the roster, it is not going to be handed to you, you are going to need to work and show them what you can do.– Jill Schneider 

 ”Form a positive and honest relationship with your coach right from the start. Your coach should be one of your biggest mentors during your college career, so having a solid relationship with him or her is essential. Do not be afraid to go to your coach for advice or just to vent.– Meg Hartzell 

“Dont let athletics get in the way of class but dont let your classes get in the way of athletics.”– Allie Grosenick 

Senior hockey player, Jake Howie

 Make sure you’re attending class and if you need help talk to somebody. All the professors are really approachable and especially as student-athletes they understand you often do have a little bit less time on your hands so they are always willing to help you and explain material in greater detail so that you can succeed both on the field and in the classroom. - Jake Howie 

Give everything you have and cherish the relationships you build with your teammates.– Matt Nordlund

Being a college student-athlete will be one of the biggest challenges you’ve ever faced and the best time of your life.  You will build relationships, make memories, and hopefully, bring home some hardware.  Perhaps these words of wisdom from senior Sabres will enhance your college experience at Marian.  Go Sabres! 

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