For student-athletes, a normal day’s schedule can be a workout

Anna Weggel

For first-year kinesiology student Peter Miller, this year is geared toward getting stronger.

Miller is a redshirted track and field thrower. He practices with the team, but is not allowed to compete as part of it.

It is common for first-year students to be redshirted, he said.

“You don’t feel as important to the team,” he said.

Miller is allowed to compete at some of the local meets, as long as he finds his own ride and remains unaffiliated with the team.

There are hundreds of student-athletes like Miller that incorporate practices and competitions into their schedules every week. Many said the demanding time commitments improve their study skills and work ethics.

Miller was recruited to throw with the University’s team after his junior year. But after injuring his back in offseason training, he was not offered a scholarship.

Miller said he hopes to get a scholarship next year.

But athletics are only part of Miller’s life.

Last semester, the track and field team required Miller to study six hours a week at Bierman Athletic Building.

Miller said he liked having tutors available but thought it was too far away.

“It’s bad for people that live in the superblock because it’s a 20-minute walk both ways,” he said. “It would be 40 minutes extra that you could study,” he said.

But Miller did not have to go to study hours this semester because his grade point average was a 3.5.

“It’s somewhat of an incentive,” he said.

Miller said some people think athletes get more breaks than they actually do.

“Some of the kids who live by me think I get my homework done (by someone else),” he said. “It gets kind of old every day.”

If he did not have four hours taken out of every day because of track, Miller said he would not know what to do.

“I’d be pretty bored,” he said. “I think I’d get in a lot of trouble if I wasn’t in a sport. It affects my decision-making.”

Softball

Freshman softball player Katie Meyer has always known she wanted to play Division I softball at the University.

“I always wanted to go to the games; I always wanted to be a Gopher,” Meyer said.

Now Meyer said she feels like a celebrity because the younger athletes look up to her and her teammates.

“It’s neat because I was the one asking for autographs,” she said. “It’s kind of like a dream come true.”

Off the field, Meyer spends six hours per week studying at the Bierman Athletic Building and also on the road with her team. The players are given designated study times during plane rides or at hotels to eliminate distraction, she said.

Meyer has games almost every weekend and travels throughout the United States with her team.

“Some people get sick of traveling,” she said. “I think it’s one of the perks.”

Meyer said she loves softball because it is both an individual and team sport.

“It’s just you and the pitcher, but you also cheer everyone on,” she said. “I don’t think I could be without a team sport.”

Besides the camaraderie Meyer gets from the team, she also finds encouragement within her teammates.

“You look over and see your team working hard and that helps you and makes you better.”

Baseball

Kinesiology junior and baseball player Jake Elder found adjusting to Minnesota weather to be one of the most challenging aspects of University life.

Elder, from British Columbia, Canada, said the weather he is used to is extremely mild in comparison.

“I really had to get used to that,” Elder said.

Although the baseball team practices at least four days per week and plays multiple games on the weekends, academics remain important to the team.

“Our coaches make an emphasis on academics,” Elder said. “They are first and foremost.”

Elder said he has even had to miss midweek games for classes.

“Our coaches are pretty good about missing midweek games,” he said.

Although Elder receives good grades, he said he believes they would be better if he were not in sports.

“If I wasn’t in baseball, I’d probably be a straight-‘A’ student,” he said. “I’d have way too much free time on my hands.”

Elder and his team also participate in various charitable events throughout the year, such as visiting elementary schools and playing with the students.

“It’s a pretty good experience. You brighten their day,” he said. “It represents the University well and sets a good example for the community.”

Football

Justin Fraley, senior strong safety for the football team, said if it was not for football, he probably would not be in college.

Fraley considers football to be a blessing because he has friends that struggle to afford tuition and housing.

“I absolutely love (football),” Fraley said. “If I love it and I am dedicated, then the schooling will come with it.”

Fraley said he did most of his homework at the Bierman Athletic Building during his first and second years at the University.

“It helps you learn the ropes of time management,” he said. “It helped me a lot.”

The football team also participates in charitable events. The players often visit schools to answer questions, sign autographs and sometimes let the children tackle them.

“They make you feel like a star,” he said.

Although the team is in the offseason, players still work out and condition.

“Free time doesn’t really exist anymore,” Fraley said.

But when Fraley has a few spare moments to himself, he spends it doing nothing.

“I really don’t do anything,” he said. “I just relax.”

Fraley spends every day with many of his teammates, whether it is at practice or at home.

“It’s like one big family, really,” he said. “It’s like 80 or 90 brothers.”