The balance of being a student athlete

Josh Maguire, one of the assistant captains of the Ridgeback’s men’s hockey team, plays in a game against the Windsor Lancers. Photo credit: Ryan Hahn

A typical day for a Ridgebacks’ hockey player consists of at least three hours in the classroom, and then two hours at practice. This is it, unless it’s game day then there are another few hours on the ice.

Josh Maguire is a student athlete at Ontario Tech University and plays for the Ridgebacks’ men’s hockey team. Maguire has to be able to balance school and sport.

When he was first getting into the swing of school and sport, one of Maguire’s professors said to him, “When you are in high school, there are 35 hours of school but in university there are 15 hours of school. It’s what you do with those other 20 hours that makes a difference.”

This moment changed Maguire’s perspective on how he balances school and sport.

One of the many things student athletes work on to keep up with their hectic schedule is how to use their time efficiently.

When they are not at practice or playing games, coaches tell them to focus on school so that their grades are good enough to allow them to keep playing.

Even though sport takes up a majority of time, education can’t be benched. Each athlete must maintain at least a 2.00 GPA in order to stay in their sport.

Players who have supportive coaches are often able to succeed in both sport and school. Curtis Hodgins is the Ridgebacks’ coach for men’s hockey and believes he gives his players enough time to be at their best on the ice and enough time to focus on school.

“I’m a coach that doesn’t keep my players on the ice for two hours. We have a two-hour block to practice, but we only practice for an hour,” said Hodgins. He knows his players need time to do their work so he keeps the practice short so they can do their work.

He encourages the players to make the most of their time on the ice so they have more time to do their schoolwork.

“We set the culture, make sure that the guys know academics are really important. In fact, hockey is number two behind academics,” said Hodgins.

Maguire is able to perform to his coaches’ standards and finish his schoolwork his professors, because of his time management skills.

“It’s time management and self-discipline. They are the two crucial ones,” said Maguire, who often uses the free time he has to do schoolwork rather than waste that time doing other things.

“If those two days you sit around and do nothing, it will catch up to you. However, if you use that time you have and get ahead on papers and other work, it makes it more manageable,” said Maguire.

Balance and time management is one of the many things Maguire has learned in his time as a student athlete.

It works out that if you do well in school during your time as an athlete, opportunity for good jobs will come up.

Rob Leth, a student in the journalism program in 1994, is a major example of this.

“I found myself getting bored in the classroom and often skipping my classes to play baseball,” said Leth.

He played baseball during his time at Durham College under the coaching of Sam Dempster. Leth felt like Dempster had changed his perspective on school and set him going in the right direction.

“If you want to play baseball, you have to go to class,” Dempster told him.

That was the turning point for Leth. He realized how important education was and that he needed to focus on it.

Leth managed to graduate and has used his education to find a job in the field as a sports anchor for Global News. Leth first joined the Global team back in 2003 as a videographer and a weekend sports anchor.

When time management, focus, and education all come together it creates a way for a student athletes to juggle their busy life.

Student athletes must use their time on the court, ice or field to the best of their ability so the time they spend in the classroom or doing school work is all time well spent.

Because at the end of the day, each athlete is similar to other students and they all have due dates and tests to focus on.

“Staying on top of school work right away has been a major benefit to me and my time and helps me balance it all,” said Maguire.