|Coach Craig Walker talks game plan with his 9-1 Seneca Sting Women's Basketball squad.|
Friday, January 27, 2012
Sting varsity women’s basketball talk the unique lives of student-athletes
The first of two stories in a short series.
By: Aneela Khan, Seneca Student Sports Reporter
They practice and play games multiple times per week; and sometimes, their intensity off the court matches their intensity in-games. Intensity is, partly, what has made the Seneca Sting varsity women’s basketball team the squad that they are today – 9-1 on the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) regular season, as they head into the championship tournament that they are hosting, March 1-3, 2012 at Seneca’s Newnham Gymnasium.
Varsity athletes are much like you or I except that they are wholly and completely different.
We do school work, they do school work, then they get on team bus for a road trip to Barrie to play weeknight game against Georgian Grizzlies. We have part-time jobs, they have part-time jobs, then they have to sprint across the GTA to practice under the watchful eye of head coach Craig Walker. We try to find time for a personal life, well, they try, but it ain’t easy for them.
Life can get very demanding for varsity student-athletes.
The Seneca Sting women’s basketball team, who were undefeated in league play until a loss to the rival Algonquin Thunder, 53-47, were asked to share the details of their intense, complicated lives as student-athletes.
Head coach Walker, reflects on his past and present student-athletes and the challenges they faced – and continue to face.
He highlights the fact that all of his student-athletes have passed their first and second semesters, often with impressive results and that more than 95% have gone on to graduate. He also mentions that some of the basketball players on his current squad are even making the Dean’s List. So, what’s your excuse?
Walker says he is aware of the fact that being a student-athlete is tough but he knows that his players are hard workers and can handle any situation thrown at them.
Forward Zoe Layne, who is currently studying in the Social Worker program, describes her day to day life as a student athlete.
“We try to train every day. We have practices 3 times a week which can get very tiring so you have to make sure you eat well, sleep well and make sure you don’t fall back in classes because that can strongly affect you.”
She also outlines some of the difficulties that student-athletes face.
“I guess just mostly balancing school work and basketball because sometimes we’ll be coming home at 10 or 11 p.m. at night, from a home game, do homework and it can get very tiring. You just have to be very organized and know what you are doing.”
Zoe offers some insight and a reality check to those Seneca students who think being a student-athlete is all about the swag, gear and uniform.
“As an athlete, it might look like easy, what we do on the court, but behind the scenes, it’s very hard, you really have to work hard, put in the effort to get along with your teammates because it’s a team sport. It’s five people, not one. As well in order to be a student-athlete, you have to bring your heart and soul on the court for the Seneca Sting.”
Centre Tamara Nembhard, who is studying Early Childhood Education, loves her life as a student-athlete.
“It’s probably a better experience than if I were a regular student, I have to say. I feel like basketball teaches you more about life rather than just going through the motions. The coaches and the players build more character and teach you how to deal with life problems.”
She also shares the feelings of her team-mates, that being a student-athlete is not easy and that the struggle with finding balance is a mighty one.
She points out some challenges that come up.
“We play basketball a lot, about four to five times per week, and getting to class on time is tough – you’re always in a rush." She also points out that student-athletes can and often have to be very driven.
“We are a hard working bunch, we have to be, because we have to deal with not only the trials and tribulations of sport, we also deal with tests and exams in the classroom.”
Tamara also reveals that just because she is a student-athlete, it does not mean that she gets any preferential treatment.
“A lot of people think that athletes have things handed to them because they play sports for the school but that’s not the case at all. We’re very, very, very hardworking and everything we get, we worked hard for it, and if we don’t work hard for it, we don’t get rewarded, so anything you see us with or see us get, it’s because we earned it and hard work gets rewarded.”
A great lesson for any Seneca student, athlete or not.
The Sting Women’s Basketball team’s next home game is Saturday, Jan. 28th against Cambrian. Tipoff is at 6:30 p.m. in Newnham Gymnasium (Building G, Sports Centre, Lower Level).
Seneca College will also proudly serve as host of the 2012 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Women’s Basketball Championship, March 1-3, 2012.