Student Athletes Share Struggles, Strategies at VIA 

Justin Szelis

The Student Athlete panel inspired many students during the VIA on Monday, September 12, at 11 a.m.

Nearly 40% of Manchester undergraduate students are student athletes, and many of them gathered to share their experiences in front of an audience of students, faculty and staff.

The panel was asked to explain what’s their best part of sports, what are student athlete difficulties, time management strategies, the point of becoming a student athlete and how mental health can affect their overall performance on and off the field. Several students on the panel agreed that student athletes have “pressure to perform” on and off the field. A common theme brought up among the student athletes was that faculty members accommodate their needs according to when their games happen. This displays the heart and flexibility of faculty on campus.

Madison McCarthy, a third year environmental studies and biology major, thought the most intriguing experience during the VIA was when the panel mentioned how they overcame adversity. “I learned about how they got up from injury, and from mental health,” she said.

Furthermore, she also believed experiencing both sports and the classroom “gives them a purpose, a reason to try harder, and keep them focused on a goal.”

Sierra Caster, a senior environmental studies major, perceived the most interesting experience during the VIA as when the panel conveyed how they manage their time. “I enjoyed how they prioritized their time effectively,” she said. “I loved how they’re intentional with their actions, and make time for things like self-care, sports, and academics.”

Caster viewed both sports and the classroom experience as a way to clear your mind, and make friendships. One key notion she had about student athletes is the “academic/athletic balance.” She said: “Athletes need to find the balance between work and school, and it’s really hard mentally.”

Her overall stance on this topic of mental health was when she encountered troubles on the swim team her freshman year.

One key takeaway from this enriching experience was that saying No is okay as long as it meets your needs as a student, and an athlete. The student athlete panel opened up on several questions about how they perceive their life as a student athlete. Students mentioned meaningful tips for fellow Spartans to pursue their passion in life, and do whatever it takes to reach out for support when needed.

The panel throughout Monday morning emphasized how crucial it is to perform wellness checks on yourself, plan ahead, engage in close relationships, and build towards your passion in life.

“You are the worst enemy to you,” said Hannah Lindsey, one of the panel members. “Mental health can happen to anyone even all-star athletes like Simone Biles. The only person in your way as a Spartan is your thoughts, actions, and work ethic.”

As demonstrated through the student athlete panel, they accentuated on the importance of keeping ourselves in shape mentally, emotionally, and physically.