OWU athletes balance course work and practice

More and more students on campus are voicing opinions about their sports teams and the timely obligations that come with them.
OWU athletes claim that they dread going to practices and games, yet continue to play the sport for various reasons. Past OWU athletes have decided to make the decision they found to be “right” for them.
Senior Robbie Shane said there are a few different reasons why he has stayed involved with the OWU baseball team, even at a Division III program.
“First and foremost, I love the game and I love being around my teammates,” he said. “When you’ve got 30 or so guys all working together as hard as they can for one single purpose, it inspires me to be a better player and person.”
Shane said baseball has always been a great stress relief as well as a break in his day and that he thinks it helps him stay conscious about being in shape.
“As everyone knows schoolwork can get very overwhelming and being able to escape from that for two hours a day is a nice way to clear my mind.” Shane said.
“I’ll admit that it is probably lower on the totem pole, but I think that would vary from sport to sport as far as importance,” Shane said.
Shane said he doesn’t know of anyone off the top of his head that has decided to hang it up based solely on practice being overwhelming.
Junior Marshall Morris is in the middle of his third season of basketball for the OWU men’s team and said many sports practices at OWU are intentionally grueling.
“Practices are the opportunity for a team or an individual to improve their skills,” he said.
Morris said no improvement would be seen if athletes just stayed in their comfort zone.
“I think it’s safe to say that you must constantly raise your skill level in order to remain competitive,” said Morris. “We stay in these sports because of the thrill and excitement of competing.”
He said that whether it’s during practice or games, athletes love to compete. Morris said games, matches and meets are an athlete’s outlet for showing that love for competition.
“We’re already in pain from practice, so we might as well see the reward by winning competitions,” said Morris.
Morris said he doesn’t feel as if practices are too intense to mess up the daily structure of his life.
“Many athletes continue playing because of the genuine enjoyment of their sports,” he said. “They do not simply remain in a sport because it’s been a part of their life for numerous years.”
On the other hand, Morris said the sport has become a part of the athletes’ lives.
“Going to practice every day is simply understood,” Morris said.
Morris also said staying in shape is a large aspect of continuing with sports.
“When you’re competing at a collegiate level, it’s necessary to maintain your fitness that enables you to compete,” he said. “Taking one or two days off can sometimes affect your fitness if you are regularly working out every day.”
Morris said some athletes refuse to take days because of that specific reason. He said it depends mostly on the sport and the individual athlete.
Junior Ryan Clark will have no lacrosse obligations weighing him down this spring. Having played for OWU’s men’s lacrosse team the past two years, Clark has decided to call it quits.
“To be honest, it is difficult to put my finger on one specific reason why I left the team,” he said. “There were a number of different contributing factors that led to my decision to stop playing lacrosse and move onto different experiences and opportunities.”
Clark said one big reason was because he just did not feel the same drive to continue playing and working as hard as he had when he arrived to campus freshman year.
“There are a number of different reasons for this, but one of the biggest would have to be that I was simply burned out on playing the sport,” he said. “I had been focusing heavily on lacrosse from a young age and played in summer tournaments and camps constantly since as long as I can remember.”
Clark said he had always been concentrating on playing lacrosse at a high level in college since he was a kid, but that high level eventually factored into him leaving the team. OWU’s program is extremely competitive and has a storied history of success and winning.
“The lacrosse team is consistently ranked within the top 25 teams in the nation and competes at a very high level,” said Clark. “As a result, the team is run essentially like a Division I program where you eat, breathe and live lacrosse.”
Clark said he found that type of schedule to be very tiring because it is what he had been doing for so long and added to the quick burnout of the drive he once had for the sport.
“I still love the sport, but it just became more of a chore instead of a love and passion like it once was,” he said. “That really helped me make my decision in the end, because you should be playing the sport for love instead of thinking of it as a chore and something you have to do.”
Clark said that since lacrosse has a fall season and spring season it can be difficult to deal with at times.
“To be honest, I’m not really sure what would have convinced me to stay on the team,” said Clark. “For me, I stayed as long as I did because of my teammates.”
“My decision was not based on a real hate for anything in particular, it was more my love and desire to keep playing,” said Clark. “I have also always been interested in other things outside of strictly sports.”
Clark said he has never felt that his life needed to revolve around sports. He said he has always tried to be active in other areas of either his school life or life within the community.
“Obviously playing sports interferes with daily life, but you kind of learn to accept it as being your daily life,” he said. “And for me, it just wasn’t what I wanted to keep doing every day for the rest of my time here at OWU.”
Clark said he was ready to try other things and get involved in different groups and activities on campus.
“OWU really does offer a lot of things to do and it can be just as exciting and educational as the lacrosse field can be.” Clark said.
Senior Field Hockey player Kelsey Morrison said she had seen many of her teammates quit the team in the past year due to the time obligations the sport brought.
“Two of my best friends used to be on the team,” said Morrison. “Both of them quit before this fall season to devote their time to school and other activities.”
“I play for my team and go to practices and games for my teammates, however the time commitment often wears on athletes having a full course-load and other extra-curricular activities” said Morrison.
Morrison’s teammate and fellow senior Alyse Marotta said she stayed with field hockey and was happy with the critical role that physical activity plays in continuing with the sport and in her daily life.
“As an exercise major, most of my studies surround all things in motion, but beyond that, I receive a certain amount of satisfaction through sport and activity.” Marotta said.
Marotta also said she enjoys the rigor of training, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from pushing herself past perceived limits. She agrees with Shane, who explains the time spent during practice or in a game is more of an “outlet” rather than an obligation.
“It is also an outlet during the day through which I can blow off some steam and channel a bit of peace,” she said.
Marotta said she doesn’t know of many OWU athletes who have quit because of practices. “Usually, it would be a combination of pressures including practices that would cause an athlete to make the tough call of leaving their sport.”

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