The life of a rookie Hawk

Today, over 3,000 new students will officially start their first year at Wilfrid Laurier University. But one group of first-years have been on campus for the past few weeks, already wearing the purple and gold of the Laurier Golden Hawks.

This group is Laurier’s first-year student-athletes and as they adjust to university life they will also go through workouts, practices, team meetings and games and on top of all that, school.

“At first it was kind of overwhelming because there was so much going on and it was all so new to me,” said kinesiology and physical educationstudent Alena Luciani who was a first-year on the Hawks’ women’s basketball team last year.

“It was pretty hard adjusting to the new class schedule, new class sizes, living in a different place along with practice every day, workouts on top of that and then once games started, the huge thing was time management, which I had to get the hang of really quick.”

Typically, a student-athlete’s day is the complete opposite to that of most students’. They’re up around seven, in the gym by eight and in class all morning. That’s followed by a practice that lasts at least two hours and whatever schoolwork that needs to be done.

“Playing a sport is basically like having a full-time job on top of being a student,” said Luciani. “We can’t just go home after class and nap for four hours and then do work whenever we want.”

This demanding schedule can be particularly difficult for a first-year student-athlete because in addition to practicing and working out every day, they’re also going through the same difficult transition that faces every student who is new to the university lifestyle.

“It was definitely a tough adjustment from high school,” said business student Andrew Greenberg, who played his rookie season on the men’s baseball team in 2009.

“You have new classes, a bigger workload and then baseball six or seven days a week. There were definitely times when things would pile up.”

While time management is an important issue for any student, it plays a crucial role in the lives of student -athletes as a decline in academic performance can affect them athletically.

In order to keep on top of their workload, first-year student-athletes attend a two-hour study hall, four nights a week. The study hall is mandatory for first-year student-athletes, and is run by senior athletes.

“The second you get behind, it will affect your grades which will in turn affect your ability to play,” said Luciani.

“So it was really good to just take those few hours and sit there and do work… it would even just help me have a clear head for games, not having to think about school.”

The study hall isn’t the only support system for the rookie Hawks. Their veteran teammates become a surrogate family as they settle into life at WLU.

“They’ve been a big source of positive support,” said Jordan McAlpine, who will be starting his first-year on the Hawks’ football team this coming year.

“I’ve been approached by a lot of them and they’ve all told me that if I have any questions about anything don’t be afraid to call them, they’ve really been great.”

McAlpine sums up how he plans to be a successful first-year student by taking the advice of his coaches.

“Don’t fall behind, don’t get caught up too much in the social scene, just get to class and do everything you’re asked and you should be fine.”

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