Life of a university athlete


“Busy, fun, active. I love it,” said Waterloo track athlete Chantel Pilon. These six words define her lifestyle today and how she is able to balance her school and social life together.

Chantel Pilon studies business at the University of Waterloo but is also a part of the school’s track team. Pilon has made it to nationals every year since 2009 and is ranked third place in all of Waterloo’s track history.

As a hardworking university student and a track star, her time commitment to training is intense. “My routine starts with a 45-minute warm up, then two hours of running; different running depending on the day and finally 1-1:30 hours at the gym.”

“I train Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Monday is a speed day so I will do sprints anywhere between 30m and 100m.

“Sometimes I also do sprint hurdles,” explained Pilon, listing her training for the rest of the week which is similarly challenging.

At Wilfrid Laurier University, rugby captain Jeff Pickel shared how he is able to maintain a routine that revolves around school and his sport’s life.

“I find that since I am spending so much time training I really have to be good at managing my time. I spend very little time procrastinating because, to be honest, I don’t have the time. I wake up at 8 a.m. everyday and either do a morning workout or schoolwork and by the afternoon I do what I didn’t do in the morning.”

Similar to Pickel, Pilon said, “There is definitely enough time in the day to go to class, go to track and study.”

Pickel has been made captain of the ruby team twice — in 2011 and again in 2012. He has won rookie of the year in 2008 and OUA first team all star in 2009 and 2010.

He said, “I love playing a sport I enjoy. I think that’s what other people should be concerned about in the first place; playing something that really interests you. I love the contact aspect of playing rugby and the rush I feel when I play.”

As the time commitment to a university sports team is very consuming, Pilon and Pickel comment on the impact it has on other university experiences.

“I find it very hard to do any sort of volunteer work or participate in any other university events when I am so busy with track,” said Pilon.

However, Pickel said, “Being a part of a sports team allows me to experience a different university life compared to other students. I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything except for a couple of nights not being able to go out.”

The social life of a university athlete is something that needs to be considered heavily. Because of the amount of training that is needed, partying at night is not something that a lot of athletes do.

Pilon said, “Party as in go out with your friends and come back at a reasonable time? Yes. Party as in get wasted? Definitely not.”

“I’ll feel as if all my training would have been a waste that day and I’ll just worry about having to burn off those extra beers the next day,” said Pickel. “To train my best I cannot be too tired or hung-over.”

In addition to being strict about their drinking habits, these star athletes have to consider their diets as well.

“I’m a vegetarian so I try to eat green vegetables everyday. I take vitamins and calcium and I eat around 2,000 calories per day. Occasionally I do eat pizza and nachos, but I feel like I have to work my ass off the next day to burn off those unwanted calories,” said Pilon.

Pickel also explained, “I’m not exactly sure how many calories I intake, but I do eat a lot. I have about three very large meals plus two smaller meals everyday. I don’t eat fast food and try not to eat any fatty snacks like chips or chocolate and instead choose to stay closer to healthier food choices.”

For the rest of the students that feel like they need to begin getting off the couch and stop eating chips, Pilon and Pickel propose a few things that other students can do to begin working out and getting fit.

Chantel said, “I suggest cardio everyday; does not have to be a lot, 20-30 minutes each day or at least five times a week will make a huge difference. I would also suggest doing weights three times a week. Light weights but lots of repetitions.”

“I would start by looking into different sports you like .… Whether it be soccer or volleyball, start with something you like then begin a routine around that sport and eventually you will want to maintain being fit and healthy,” Pickel advised.

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