A Balancing Act: Time On and Off the Ice

Student-athletes struggle when balancing athletics with academics. That’s a reality no matter what level of competition or schooling you’re at.

Being a player on the Varsity Boys Hockey team at WCI, I have been missing roughly 2.5 hours or more of class time each week since the season started. Not to mention full-day tournaments during the week on top of that. The boys team has four tournaments this season, causing the players to miss eight full days of school. Eight days may not seem like much, but when you’re already missing two classes for regular season games each week, the time adds up.

I guess you can say goodbye to your social life, since all your free time consists of catching up on school work or working at your part-time job.

Matt C. is a grade 12 co-op student at WCI and is also a member of the hockey team. Matt has a placement at an electrical site and starts his day at 7 AM and is supposed to end at 2 PM. “I need to have 400 hours to get four credits and with hockey games being at 1:45 PM or 2 PM it is becoming an issue,” he told me. Matt has been missing out on full days of work because of tournaments, and he has to end some days early due to games. Matt now works 7 AM to 5 PM on off days to try to get all the hours he needs.

Mark M., another grade 12 student at WCI, played on the team last year but made the decision to not play hockey this year so he can focus on his school work, as he is trying to get into university next year. Mark loves hockey and would love to be on the team but with all his school work he thought it would be too much. Describing last year’s season, he told me, “I was missing my afternoon classes three times a week and my absences took a toll on my marks.”

Josh R., who currently plays on the team, almost made the same decision not to play, but decided he would buckle down and get all his work done during his spares and after school.

One of my teammates is slowly becoming a math professor, since he has been teaching himself university level math lessons every time he misses a day.

Many parents (and potentially those of other players on the team) have been hounding me to get all of my school work done, and handed in, on time. The old “I don’t have any homework” excuse just isn’t working for me any more. My mom is becoming concerned about my grades since I should be applying to colleges this year, and the reason I am back for a fifth year is to upgrade some of my marks. I have been hearing the words “get to work” way too often lately.

As much as I love hockey and have no regrets about playing on the team this year, it has had its challenges.

I’m learning that it is very important to plan ahead and ask your teachers about the work you will be missing so you can fit it into your busy schedule. “The boys” know that Mr. Stewart, the coach of the hockey team, will not be pleased if their work is incomplete. He tells us, “School comes first!”

Photography: Mel Sauve

Article: Zach Bellefeuille