Time Management A Must For Every Student-Athlete

A blur. Frenetic. Non-stop hustle.

No, this isn't an odd-man rush or breakaway goal, these are the feelings of being a first-year college hockey player.

Just ask St. Michael's assistant captain Krista Ferrari.

"I have numerous memories of staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning, studying for exams, or writing papers," she says.

"I would drag myself out of my warm bed to face the cold Vermont air and trudge to my early morning lectures. I was exhausted and overwhelmed."

That's not a surprise. We did the math. On average, the weekly time commitment for college hockey is 35 hours; the weekly academic workload is 39 hours.

That is basically two full-time jobs to skate on a collegiate level.

My own daughter, Sophia Burns, is now finding that out first hand, as she has joined Krista on St. Michael's Div. I women's hockey team.

Krista, a junior, and Sophia, a freshman, are relying on the discipline they developed early on as youth hockey players to succeed at the next level.

Krista uses a planner - as she did in high school - to record important dates such as practices, weightlifting sessions and game days. A daily "to-do" list is another must, and she holds herself accountable for checking off each and every item.

Sophia also discovered, just like high school, college professors are approachable.

"They're often more understanding than you think," she says. "Don't be afraid to talk to talk to them when you feel stressed about workload."

Sophia had the added benefit of a disciplined big brother who shared his hockey/school game plan for managing time and maintaining good grades as an athlete. 

Joe's keys to academic-athletic victory include:

* Stay organized

* Keep a planner (Nothing is more satisfying than crossing things off a list)

* Communicate with your teachers (Let them know when it's hockey season, and always ask to be kept informed of opportunities for extra credit.)

* Take advantage of downtime (Maximize your study halls if you have them. Look for opportunities to get work done, like arriving a few minutes early to class.)

* Don't be afraid to say, "No" (If you're going to make this crazy balancing act work in-season, you have to make sacrifices)

Stressful though it may be, Krista tries to relish this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

"Hockey is something that I am blessed to be a part of," she says. "And I am going to cherish every moment."

"Remembering why I play - and how much it means to me to play at the collegiate level - eases my mind," Sophia adds. "It reminds me that the extra work is 100 percent worth it."

It's stressful for parents, too. Hopefully with structure, discipline, commitment and good organizational skills, we'll not only be proud to see our kid's names on the back of a jersey, but also on the honor roll.


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