Concussions, hamstrings, Achilles, quads, biceps, traps, delts, hand, knee: the list goes on for injuries on the mind of any athlete. When coupled with school, the increasing pressures of day-to-day classes, social lives and deadlines, why should students even bother with sports? Do the risks outweigh the rewards? AU is, after all, a Division III school, meaning athletes willing to compete in sports are not compensated with athletic scholarships or any other form of financial gifts.
“I’m playing tennis because I genuinely love the sport and not for any other reason,” said sophomore Cassie Weyker.
“I just wasn’t ready to give up baseball yet,” said sophomore baseball player Zach Wagner. “I still had a deep love for the game. For me, I knew that my program [Cyber Security] was really doing well here. With President Pistole being here, it really brought a lot to the table as far as academics.”
The general response was the same from most student-athletes; they love their sports and they love their schooling. The bottom line is that they are willing to run the risks for the love of the game.
“There was great communication and helpfulness throughout the entire process and I am very thankful for it,” Weyker said, explaining further why she chose AU. “Whether I was on campus for a visit or meeting another player to hit with over the summer, there was just a good sense of community.”
Sports can be exceedingly taxing, not only on people’s bodies, but on their social lives as well. More often than not, student-athletes work tirelessly outside of their practices to enhance their performance. This includes hitting the gym day-in and day-out, studying film, eating right and sometimes even more practice. All of this can culminate in an absolutely exhausting workload.
“Although practice and matches can be time consuming, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Weyker. “I love my teammates and I would even consider some of them my best friends. Other than that, every athlete experiences the physical and emotional drain a sport can have, but I feel that playing tennis throughout my life has shaped me into a well-rounded person.”
Many students do not mind sacrificing free time if it means spending time playing their sport. They believe that by being with their team and playing the game they love, they can still fulfill their social needs.
“I’ve made several improvements to my social life this year,” said Wagner. “I do think it’s worth the risks. Getting to play baseball everyday is worth it to me, and I feel like I’ve developed a strong social life outside of just baseball at AU.”
Whatever the case may be, AU has created an atmosphere where athletes strive to compete outside the classroom as much as in it— a place where people don’t mind putting in a little extra work for something they love.
To be able to compete at the college level, these students go through the ringer. They throw their full effort into their sports and academics for the pride of their school. They exemplify every characteristic AU lobbies to their students.
These students work hard, just like athletes at Division I or Division II schools, without the same potential to continue playing at the professinal level. They simply play because they love the game.
No matter the size of the school, student-athletes strive to push themselves to new heights. It’s an idea summed up in the words of Wagner, saying, “Baseball at AU helps me become the best version of me everyday.”