Making plays and making grades
On typical days in the spring, junior gymnast Lauren Wozniak lifts weights, goes to class from 7:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., visits Longcoy Elementary School to observe second grade, studies – and goes to practice for four hours.
She has a 3.95 GPA.
“I hate when other people are like ‘Oh my god, I’m so tired,” Wozniak said. “I think ‘You didn’t do anything all day besides go to class. How can you be complaining?’”
Wozniak is ranked among the Kent State athletic department’s top academic performers.
Although it takes a lot of time to be a Division I athlete, many Kent State athletes have found a way to be exceptional students.
This fall, 22 athletes had a 4.0 GPA. Four teams had a cumulative GPA of more than 3.4. The overall cumulative athletic department GPA for the fall was 3.02. This brought the athletic department’s cumulative GPA over 3.0 for the first time in school history.
The team behind the teamsAngie Seabeck, director of student athlete development, said there is a lot that goes into making sure an athlete is able to succeed.
Athletes get priority scheduling so they can work around practice and games, the use of a special study facility called the AARC, help in finding tutors, regular progress reports from professors and advisors like Seabeck to help them solve logistical problems.
“Student-athletes have a regular academic adviser like everyone on campus,” Seabeck said. “Our role is to assist with scheduling around practice, competition, weight training and everything else that they do. We also work with them on all of the NCAA academic requirements.”
Senior golfer Mackenzie Hughes said he uses the AARC only when necessary. The business management major with a 3.60 GPA took advantage of the tutoring services offered when he was having trouble with a difficult finance course.
“It’s a nice quiet spot to study and everyone is really helpful,” Hughes said.
How they do itHughes and senior golfer Mercedes Germino agree that organization is the key to being a successful student and athlete.
“I really just try to stay on top of things,” Hughes said. “I get notes early, talk to my professors and make a lot of to-do lists.”
Germino said her planner has been the best resource in maintaining her 3.92 GPA.
“Back in high school, I never wrote anything down,” Germino said. “It was always just in my head. Now I write everything down. As soon as I get the syllabus I write all the deadlines in my planner.”
Germino said a good night’s sleep is a must.
“I don’t think I’ve ever pulled an all-nighter,” Germino said. “I just can’t do it. When I do get tired and have to finish something I turn to coffee or Coke.”
ClassesEven with extensive planning and coordinating, it is inevitable that a student-athlete will have to miss a class once in a while.
“My teachers have, thankfully, been really understanding and flexible with dates,” Wozniak said. “I think I handle traveling well because I get a lot done on the bus. Most people just sleep, but I work.”
Hughes said he has found developing a rapport with his professors has made them more understanding.
“I try to talk to them and let them know who I am and that I’m on a team right when the class starts,” Hughes said.
Opportunity CostHaving so much to balance can also weigh on an athlete’s social life. Wozniak said the athletes at Kent State have a sort of community that makes it easier for her to deal with the lack of time she has to put into her social life.
“We’re all in the same position, so we kind of understand each other,” Wozniak said. “It’s nice to come into school with that automatic group of friends that’s doing exactly what you’re doing.”