Student Athletes Share the Struggles and Rewards of Balancing Sports and School Work

Being a student athlete is not an easy lifestyle. The pressures applied from coaches, teachers, family, and friends, along with one’s own expectations can be a difficult load to balance.

ENMU Student Athlete Kennedy Jones. The Chase Photo: Amanda Brown

Kennedy Jones, a freshman on the track and field team, provides a perfect example of the many responsibilities student athletes face. She is double majoring in journalism and broadcast journalism with a minor in Spanish. She also works in the Sports Information Department broadcasting home games. Along with this, she is a volunteer writer for The Chase, and has just recently become the new weatherwoman over at KENW. On top of these responsibilities, she has daily practice for her sport, along with traveling and competing in meets that often results in her missing class.

“It can be really easy to get caught up, and freak out, and feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day,” she said. “But if you really want to do something, you’ll make it work. Don’t underestimate yourself, don’t sell yourself short by thinking that it’s too much or you can’t do it. Everybody asks to eat, so you can’t be upset when you have a lot on your plate.”

Jones has been a runner her whole life. She says that facing your responsibilities, working hard, and learning to overcome is what it means to be an athlete, and she has applied this to the many areas of her busy life.

ENMU Student Athlete Zamorye Cox. The Chase Photo: Amanda Brown

Zamorye Cox, a sophomore on the women’s basketball team, shared some of her daily challenges as a student athlete. “You have to work out all the time and do your homework and make sure everything’s done, but you also need to take care of yourself and make sure you’re eating good and sleeping enough. And sometimes that’s the stuff that you don’t get done, and it does affect you.” Cox said that her approach to dealing with her day-to-day stresses is staying realistic and trying to find peace in the busyness. But she also said that being a student athlete is more than keeping up with a busy schedule. “Working hard every day and accomplishing something with a group of people is really rewarding,” said Cox.

ENMU Student Athlete Taylor Hall. The Chase Photo: Amanda Brown

Taylor Hall, a freshman on the women’s basketball team, shared her tips for succeeding on both the court and in the classroom. “You have to be focused every day. You have to come in with the mindset that you’re going to compete every day.” She also expressed the importance of implementing strong time management tactics into your everyday routine.

Hall explained that she has been working on living in the moment, not getting caught up on past failures, and taking time to reflect and express gratitude. “Remember why you’re playing the sport. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself to have fun with it,” said Hall.

Cox and Hall credited their coaches extensively on their support and encouragement, and especially their high regard for the importance of student’s classwork. “I think it helps to have coaches that are good people that want to help you outside of basketball too – in life,” said Hall. “They really do support us in making good decisions in our lives and our teammates are pretty awesome. And we all know we have the same goal,” said Cox.

ENMU Student Athlete Jasmine Gannon. The Chase Photo: Amanda Brown

Jasmine Gannon, a junior on the volleyball team majoring in mathematics for secondary education with a minor in business, said that her love for her sport is part of what encourages her to be a good student. “For student athletes, I think school work is prioritized more than maybe some [other] students that just come for school because you have to have good grades, you have to meet the standards, you have to pass so many classes to be able to play, and so I think sports for some people can be a good incentive to do well in school,” she said.

However, she emphasized that although she loves her sport, her education is her main priority. Gannon credits her instructors for being understanding of student athletes’ busy schedules. “The professors here are absolutely amazing,” she said. “They will work with you if you show them that you want to be successful.” Gannon also shared what is most rewarding for her as a student athlete. “You get to see a lot of places that you would never see. We flew to California this year; we go everywhere in Texas. I was from Clovis and I’d never been to half of the places we went. And just being able to create a bond with people that you want to be successful with as a unit. Being able to hear other people’s input, giving your input, and just being a part of something bigger than yourself.”

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