School or Sports? A Varsity Athlete's View on Maintaining AEO Status

  • Kaleigh Matheson
  • |
  • Mar 27, 2017

Graduating high school, the question occupying the minds of many student athletes is what place sports will take in their university lives. They are faced with the dilemma of pursuing the sports they love or having their diplomas mark the end of their athletic careers. The pressure of achieving AEO status exacerbates the assumed consequences of added responsibility and time commitment. As a second year varsity athlete and AEO student in the MOS Honors Finance program, I am an advocate for adopting the challenge of pursuing varsity athletics and an HBA degree.


Being a varsity athlete means being a part of community greater than your team; a community of athletes with the shared pride of representing Western through sport. Time commitments vary, but varsity sports demand a great deal of time and energy from their players. University academics present an increased workload and greater expectations from students. How and why should you attempt both, especially while trying to maintain an academic standing and level of school involvement that will secure you a place at Ivey?


  1. Teams are Valuable Resources


University is daunting, and your first day alone on campus can be isolating. Hailing from Vancouver, I had the expected nerves of beginning school so far from home. The supportive community of the volleyball team made my transition to university so much easier. Unlike the age-segregated teams we become familiar with in high-school, university athletics creates teams with athletes spanning up to 5 years, giving young athletes amazing opportunities to seek mentors and become leaders as they develop within the programs. Having the support of upper-year student athletes is an invaluable academic resource, as you strive to maintain the required 80% average. There are a number of student-athletes and varsity sports represented within Ivey currently, which demonstrates that you are in fact able to do both. These students, striving to achieve success both academically and athletically, have the most valuable insights, and luckily end up being your close friends.


  1. Sports Provide a Much-Needed Release


Inarguably the stress of university only accumulates as the semester advances towards finals. Particularly in my first year, I learned to treat sports as a necessary release. Carving a couple hours out of your day to play the sport you love with close friends can reinvigorate you to return to studies and relax the stresses that mount throughout your day. Rather than viewing varsity practices as a chore, you come to appreciate them as an escape from the stresses of daily university life. One of the greatest challenges in university is learning to prioritize, faced with a schedule so dissimilar to what we become familiar with in high school. In my personal experience, I found having additional activities in my day forced the improvement of my time management skills - a valuable asset transferrable outside of sports.


  1. Sports Build Admirable Characters


I, like many AEO athletes, struggled with the reality of having to balance academics and athletics. It was my father who put the commitment into perspective and emphasized the long-term character benefits of pursuing sports. Sports at a high-performance level develop skills of teamwork, time management, and work ethic that are difficult to learn and replicate in other activities. These qualities, uniquely developed through sport, reflect the leadership requirements of the HBA program and are marketable to future employers.


  1. Your Teachers and Coaches Want You to Succeed


Varsity athletes at Western are not alone in their fight to be their best on the court or field and in the classroom. Most professors are happy to support athletes who don the purple and white. If you take the time to meet the professors in office hours and explain the athletic commitments, professors can work to help accommodate your conflicts. The diligence of recognizing conflicts rests with the student, but your faculties will aid your effort to balance both commitments. Likewise, coaches recognize that at Western, we are student-athletes, meaning academics take priority. Furthermore, the HBA program recognizes the strong characters built through athletics, and the competent and hard-working individuals who meet the AEO requirements having balanced both.


  1. Little Moments Make it Worthwhile


At the end of the day, I do not want to undermine the commitments or the pressure, but I want to emphasize the people and moments that make it worthwhile. In the middle of midterm season, plagued by assignments and readings, the stress melts away when your team scores a big point! As has been told over and over, things, be they sports, classes, or tasks, are easier when we enjoy them. If you love your sport and you love your classes, balancing both will be a privilege not some laborious inconvenience.


I will finish by imparting a more philosophical message. University presents a unique opportunity to become established in a new environment, and you can (re-)define yourself however. If by the end of high school, sport remains an integral part of your life and identity, continue on. Fear of failure or risking AEO loss pre-emptively excludes you from what is one of the greatest experiences in athletics. What makes Ivey’s HBA program unique is its emphasis on evaluating potential students holistically, considering the whole individual not just their grades. Sports can make us the best versions of ourselves, and I encourage you to consider presenting that best version of yourself by continuing your athletics career.


  • HBA