For student-athletes, the demands can be doubly daunting, a delicate balancing act as they spend as much time in the classroom as they do on the field, on the ice or in the gym.
However, each year at the University of Saskatchewan, hundreds of Huskies student-athletes like Annie Monteith and Brayden Twarynski—hoping to be a doctor and a chemical engineer, respectively—excel in both academics and athletics.
"Taking engineering while playing sports at the university level is no easy task," said Twarynski, a starter on the defensive line with the Huskies football team who also posted a 90 per cent average in his engineering courses in 2014-15. "Based on the hours spent on each per week, it is like working two full-time jobs."
"I'm still trying to find that balance between the two, but for me these are two of the most important things in my life and I do my best to excel at both," said Monteith, who earned a silver medal in wrestling at the national championships last year while also posting an 85 per cent average in her classes. "I think sometimes student-athletes don't think too much about all the work we've put in because it's something we love doing and it's just part of our life."
Their efforts, however, have not gone unnoticed on campus, or across the country.
In the 2014-15 season, 183 Huskies—more than 40 per cent of all student-athletes at the U of S—were named to the university's All-Academic Team by earning a grade point average of at least 74.5 per cent while taking a full course load of 24 credit units per session. In addition, 77 Huskies—including Monteith and Twarynski—were named Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Academic All-Canadians for posting a grade point average of at least 80 per cent, an impressive record of student and sport success at the U of S.
"The success of our students is an accomplishment Huskies Athletics is very proud of," said Basil Hughton, Huskies athletic director. "We hope everyone understands how hard these student-athletes, trainers and managers work to succeed in their respective colleges at the University of Saskatchewan."
For Huskies like Monteith, earning academic and athletic acclaim requires superb time management and often skipping student social activities. In addition to a full classroom course load, the 21-year-old Regina native spends more than 20 hours a week in the gym training for wrestling, as well as studying for a couple of hours on her own each day. The fourth-year College of Kinesiology student's track record speaks for itself, garnering great grades while also winning the Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA) gold medal in her weight class, being named the CWUAA female wrestler of the year and earning the conference's Student-Athlete Community Service Award, before going on to finish second at nationals.
"I found I really had to pre-plan almost every hour of my day, I even scheduled in naps," said Monteith, who has now applied to transfer to the College of Medicine and hopes to become a physician one day. "For me though, this works, and being busy is something I've always liked as I feel it focuses me and I get the most out of my day. There are definitely stressful times when you just have to stop studying and go to bed because you have a 6 am workout the next morning, but I think as long as you enjoy what you are doing, everything falls into place."
Twarynski has also found a way to successfully juggle a challenging engineering program with the demands of being a veteran starter for the Huskies football program. The roughly 40 hours a week he spends on school work is matched by 40 more hours a week that he spends at football practice, studying game film, working out in the weight room and suiting up in games once a week in the fall semester.
"Initially it seems like there are not enough hours in a day to complete everything that your coaches and professors ask of you, however once you learn to be efficient with your time, things become easier to handle," said Twarynski, who appreciates being honoured for his commitment on the field and in the classroom.
"It's a nice way to be recognized for the hard work you put in, and all of the sacrifices that you make in the pursuit of achieving both academic and athletic excellence," said the 20-year-old Calgary native. "My university experiences both on the field and in the classroom have played a strong role in shaping me into the person I am today, and I look forward to being successful in whichever career path I choose to take upon graduating."