Two years ago, when I made the decision to attend the University of Lethbridge following my junior career, I really had no idea what to expect. It all seemed a little overwhelming at first: going from three years off from school and having hockey be the full-time focus, to taking a full course load while adjusting to a league that was full of older, stronger, and more skilled players.
Making things even more interesting was the fact that our freshman class that year included 13 of us, meaning we were all in it together to figure things out for the first time. Lucky for myself, there were people around to make the transition easier. Our coach, Spiros Anastas, was a former student-athlete himself so really understands where we are coming from. He has been a great influence in helping me to become a better player on the ice, but more importantly helping me to mature and become a great person off the ice as well.
I also had older guys on the team who had gone through the process and were invaluable to my adjustment, such as Tim Campbell and Warren Shymko, among others. They had gone through some tough times with the program their first couple years, but believed in turning it around and really helped a lot of us our first two years. Our school really does have a great support system for athletes like myself, full of people both in our athletic department and out of it who truly care and are always willing to help with school or any other issues guys might be dealing with.
The one thing I consistently heard as a key to success as a student-athlete prior to coming to school and once I got here was simple: Time Management. As I am finishing up my first semester of my third year of school, I have found that that couldn’t be truer.
For each person, what time management looks like and what works for them personally is different. Something that I have found through my time in University is that because each semester brings a different school schedule with different times, you must figure out what works for you all over again each new semester. Currently I have a system and schedule that I have found to work great for myself, and this is what a typical week will look like for me:
7:45 AM- Team workout
9:30-1:15- This is where a bulk of my downtime is. I get lots of homework done in this time, anything else I may need to do such as grocery shopping, or can get a nap in if I’m running low on energy.
3:15- Practice. This is my favorite time of the day. Coming to the rink, I can forget about school and whatever else is going on and just enjoy my favorite thing in the world: playing hockey.
4:30- Weight training
The rest of my night looks different all the time, but I always make sure to have a good meal after I am finished at the rink. Often times I will be at the library with teammates doing school work or studying, and it helps that more often than not you will have someone from the team in a class with you. I try to use this time to just relax as well, and spend time with my friends. I think it is so important to relieve the stresses of everything else going on by enjoying the people you like to spend time with.
7:45 AM- Team workout
9:30-1:15- Spare time
4:00- Weight training
6:00-9:00- Night class. (This is where having understanding professors really comes into play, and I have been lucky to have one that has accepted my coming 30 minutes late to every class this semester). Pre-planning meals (and having lots of Tupperware) is something else that I have found to be extremely important in these types of situations.
9:00-10:30- I get up and make a good breakfast on these days, and usually do some reading or relax before what I know will be a long day.
4:45-6:15- Practice (This is another instance where pre-planning meals is very important as I rush from class to make it to practice)
6:30 (Tuesday)- Weight training
In our league (USports, formerly CIS) all of our games are on the weekends and almost always fall on Friday and Saturday. It makes for sometimes long weeks waiting to play, but also makes for very exciting, high intensity games.
Sundays are the one day a week I usually have completely off, and use to relax and recover after playing the two days prior. Often times these days include studying and preparing for the week ahead.
Time management really is crucial to success not only as a student-athlete, but in any walk of life. There are four distinct areas in a persons life that are important to spend time in: Physical, Mental, Social, and Spiritual. It is important to find a balance between these four areas in your life, and spend time in each one on a regular basis.
Personally, having to learn these time management skills right now is going to be beneficial throughout the rest of my life, wherever it takes me, in keeping a healthy balance of all the important aspects of my life.