The Dean’s starting lineup

Christina Thomas

Sports and studies require fifteen Kent State students’ similar dedication, work ethic

Megan Hill and Jessica Brickman are two of fifteen student athletes in the honors college. CAITLIN PRARAT | DAILY KENT STATERCAITLIN PRARAT | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Monday morning, Megan Hill is up before the sun at 6 a.m. to go to soccer practice. At 7 a.m., Hill is running hard with her teammates for two hours.

When practice is over and she is out of breath, she goes straight to the weight room for an hour of lifting. Hill has no time to rest her tired muscles because she has to go to three classes in a row until 4 p.m. Finally, she has a couple hours to catch up on some homework before her last class at 7:40 p.m.

Once the weekend arrives, athletes (like Hill) must be ready to compete. Regardless if they are stressed because of a major exam they have on Monday, they have to be focused on the game. Throughout the season, they carry enormous pressures. They don’t want to let down their teammates, coaches, fans or themselves.

But for an athlete in the honors college, the pressures are even more intense.

Hill, a sophomore political science major, is part of a small group of fifteen athletes in the honors college. These athletes have pushed themselves beyond what was expected of them to become outstanding students as well as outstanding athletes.

Balancing act

To be a Division I athlete, one has to be extremely motivated, disciplined and mentally and physically tough. To be an honors student, one must also share these same characteristics. Several athletes have shown that the intense, competitive traits they encompass have carried over into their schoolwork.

“I’m proud to be an athlete in the honors college because it shows you can do well in school as well as your sport,” Hill said. “It’s a good feeling because you’re showing everyone that anything is possible, and you can do it if you set your mind to it.”

Hill, who maintains a 3.9 GPA, said she has worked hard for her grades since she was in high school.

“I was crazy about my grades since high school, so I decided I wanted to challenge myself in college too,” she said.

Before coming to Kent State, Hill said she worried about how well she would do in her honors classes with her busy schedule.

“At first I was a little nervous about the work load and how I was going to finish it with practice and traveling and everything,” she said.

Even though she has adjusted to honors classes and a demanding daily routine, she said it still takes a lot of time and effort to get good grades.

“I have homework everyday and constantly have tests to study for,” Hill said. “It’s definitely different from high school because there is a lot more work and you have to put a lot more into it.”

During the soccer season, Hill’s team spends many weekends traveling on the bus to away games. She said that traveling makes it difficult to keep up with grades, especially when she misses class. It is also challenging because even though she needs to study, she wants to spend time with her teammates, watch movies or take a nap.

“Bus trips can get distracting, but you kind of just have to force yourself to do the work or you will fall behind,” Hill said. “You have to put your priorities first.”

Same old routine

For almost all of the honors athletes, taking on such a demanding schedule was nothing new. Athletes who want to play for a Division I team begin preparing years before they even apply to different universities. Along with being extremely dedicated to their sport, they took advanced placement or honors classes in high school, which was one reason they continued to take the rigorous courses in college.

Junior finance major Steve Davis and freshman exploratory major Jessica Brickman are two athletes who chose to pursue honors degrees in college. In high school, they couldn’t stand getting bad grades and enjoyed the academic challenge, they said.

Davis, a pitcher for the baseball team, said adjusting to college wasn’t difficult for him because he had almost the same daily routine in high school. He took honors classes in high school, so he was used to the advanced coursework.

“I was used to balancing school and baseball, so going to class, then practice and then doing homework was a natural transition for me,” Davis said. “It’s basically what I do every single day.”

Davis, the only male athlete in the honors college, said his high academic standards help motivate him to be academically successful.

“I joined the honors college because it adds value to your degree,” Davis said. “It’s tough and you have to be willing to put in the extra work.”

“I’m proud that I’ve been able to do pretty well out on the field and still get good grades,” he said.

Brickman, a defender for the soccer team, joined the honors college because she likes to set high goals for herself, she said.

“I push myself and I’ve always wanted to be the best and go above and beyond what was expected of me,” Brickman said. “So I knew in order to do that, I had to make time and put my priorities in order because school is my top priority, then soccer.”

Brickman said she doesn’t like when people say they don’t have enough time to get things done because she knows if she has time to do it, so does everyone else.

“It’s possible to get things done, you just have to put in the extra work for it and have a lot of self discipline,” she said.

High expectations

Laci Hendress had big dreams of becoming a division I gymnast since she was in high school. She knew she had to work extremely hard to prove she could compete with the best. Six days a week, Hendress would travel two hours after school to get to practice and wouldn’t get home until 11 p.m. She had to learn how to manage her time and study in the car so she could maintain great grades.

Hendress, a junior biochemistry major with a minor in business, never took an honors class in high school, but after earning a 4.0 GPA her freshman year at Kent State, she said she wanted a bigger academic challenge. She takes pride in being an honors athlete because it is an honor to represent Kent State.

“Being an athlete, you have certain expectations of yourself, not just with athletics but also academically,” Hendress said. “You know you are among a select few that are representing the university, so I feel it’s my responsibility to do well and excel in both.”

Along with always wanting to perform her best in her sport, Hendress aims for high academic goals, like being an all-scholar athlete.

“I always have that goal of being an academic All-American, and being an athlete you want to do everything to positively represent the university,” she said.

Hendress said she enjoys the honors college because of the smaller class sizes and the research projects they do. She said she has learned many valuable skills from both the gymnastics team and honors classes that complement each other.

“The honors college teaches you to connect with people in different learning atmospheres and athletics teaches you a lot of everyday living kind of skills like teamwork, responsibility and discipline,” Hendress said.

Learning how to budget time can be a difficult task when a person has so much going on in his or her life. Hendress said it takes a lot of discipline to do well in both her sport and keep up with her schoolwork.

“If you just make yourself sit down and get your homework done without any distractions, then you have free time later,” Hendress said.

Thinking about life after college, she said having the qualities of an honors athlete will help her stand out when looking for a job. Hendress said it has taught her valuable skills that will benefit her after college.

“It demands so much of you and you learn so many quality characteristics because you are exposed to so many different things that it really develops your character and gives you lots of qualities that other people don’t get to experience,” Hendress said.

Contact honor’s college reporter Christina Thomas at [email protected].