Life as a college student can be hard; they have classes, work and a social life to plan around. Life for college athletes can be a lot harder to organize and plan. Two of Kent State’s new lacrosse players, Meghan Cawood and Hailee Andry, discuss how they balance life, school and their passion.
It’s one of the first warm spring days — one of those days where you probably should be wearing a hoodie, but some may get too excited to the point they’re jumping ahead and wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
The sun is high in the sky, but is slowly falling down behind the bleachers of Dix Stadium, home to a handful of Kent State University sports. On the field, dozens of yellow rubber balls — roughly the size of a baseball — litter the ground. Hailee Andry uses her lacrosse stick to set one aside. She steps back about 10 yards, runs to the ball, scoops it up in the head of her stick, makes a few quick steps around an imaginary defender and whips a shot into the back of the net — all without breaking a stride.
Andry and her teammate, Meghan Cawood, laugh and talk while they shoot ball after ball after ball into the back of the net.
Even though practice ended 45 minutes ago.
Andry and Cawood are both freshmen on Kent State’s inaugural lacrosse team. Andry is from Orange County, California and Cawood is from Middlebury, Indiana. Both came to Kent State specifically to play lacrosse, and both trying to balance life as full-time students and full-time athletes.
“If I’m not eating, sleeping, in class or at practice, I’m doing homework,” Cawood said.
Cawood is studying biology, and like many college students, she has busy days.
“My busy day would probably be Wednesday. I have three classes; the first one starts at 8:50 (a.m.) and then one immediately after that,” Cawood said. “I have an hour break, and then I have another class, and that puts me up until about 1 (p.m.) and then we have lift at 1:30 (p.m.) so it’s a real rush over here to do lift. Lift an hour and we will either have practice for (an hour or two) and then film and scout for an hour.”
However, that day does not allow much time for homework.
Coach sets a rule that every girl has to have at least five hours of studying every week. She realizes how important academics are to student athletes, and she tries to help the girls as much as possible. Whenever the team travels for an away game, they get on a big charter bus that drives them to wherever they are going, unless they are going to the Carolinas or Florida, then they fly.
But during that bus ride, coach sets aside an hour of study hall time.
“Basically we have to be quite for a whole hour. No sleeping or else you get in trouble. So we have to be working for that whole hour,” Cawood said.
Because of the travel and game schedule, sometimes the girls miss out of classes, especially if they have an early Saturday game and need to leave on a Friday.
“I’d have my friends from my classes send me notes, but it was also like trying to get ahead before we went on the trip. Talk to the professor and see what they’re going over and what they can help you with beforehand. And then obviously your classmates because they can send you the info as soon as they get it,” Cawood said. “And some of the things like essays you can talk about how far they were going to get when I was missing”
Lacrosse, or really any collegiate sport, takes up the life of a college athlete. There is not much time for much else but even if there is time, a lot of the athletes spend it doing what they do best.
When asked if she has a day off, Cawood said, “No. I really don’t. I feel like that’s a waste of time like I should be doing something.”
As for days off from lacrosse, “We have days off. But I find myself doing something cause once again I can’t do nothing.”
She hangs out with her teammates a lot but outside of the team, they don’t really hang out with people mostly because of the hectic schedule, but also because the team becomes a family. Coach calls all the girls her kids, and the girls all call each other sisters. They all have at least one of their teammates as a roommate and at least one teammate in each of their classes. They are busy, but they are busy together.
It’s easy to find the girls on campus because they rarely walk alone, and they always have their sticks in their bag poking up and looking like antlers. They seem to have a bond stronger than most.
“Like my excitement for my teammates like, on the field off the field. That’s one of the reasons I like love team sports so much (because) you don’t get that same support… If you’re having a hard time, in like tennis maybe, and you’re in a hard set, you gotta internally walk through the next one (and the) next one. But on a team sport, where if you’re getting down and a teammate sees you getting down, that’s when they can come up to you and be like, ‘Hey dude, shake off that last one. We’re human. It happens.’”
Next year, new players will join the family. The girls here now will have a year of competition under their belt and serve as mentors to the new girls. The year after that, the process starts over again. Eventually, a tradition will form, and legends will be told of the first-ever goal by Abby Jones, or the leading scorer for on the inaugural team, Lluna Katz, and the loudest, most boisterous player in Kent State Lacrosse history, Hailee Andry.
Austin Mariasy is a Kent State journalism student. Contact him at email@example.com.