The Great Balance: Perspective from MBU’s Student-Athletes

Student-athletes balance two commitments: working towards their degree and applying themselves to their sport. Not only can playing a sport bring about new time management obstacles but it can also prove to be physically tiring. Adding on the responsibilities that sports add to a schedule, athletes must find a healthy balance in their lives. While this may sound challenging when considering a full academic workload, many student-athletes attest to the fact that they find playing sports to be incredibly rewarding and worthwhile.  

 Shane Paruch, Baseball

Shane Paruch, a senior majoring in Youth Ministries, is involved in several extracurricular activities, including being the VP of the 2020-2021 Student Body Counsel, working as an RA, and planning events and chapels. Paruch is also a member of the Sabercat’s Baseball team on top of his many responsibilities on campus. Paruch reflects, “I personally try to balance my studies and sports by making sure I get my class assignments completed on the weekends so that when I start my week on Monday, I do not have too much to worry about besides being at class.” Students often will take time out of their weekend to include quality studying and assignment completion so that they have time to be a part of baseball games and other activities throughout the week like Paruch does. Taking advantage of free time by being productive can make or break a sports experience, therefore, student-athletes, especially those involved in a myriad of extracurriculars, must maintain a steady, productive schedule in order to remain on top of their tasks. When asked about his advice for incoming student-athletes, Paruch responded, “My advice for an incoming student-athlete would be to make sure you get ahead in your studies before you get deep in your season,” Paruch shares. “Playing on a sports team is a great experience because it teaches you many life lessons and creates great memories. Getting class assignments and papers out of the way early will allow you to have the best experience while you are playing sports at MBU.”  

Isaac Schmidt, Men’s Soccer

Sophomore Communication Arts Digital Media major, Isaac Schmidt, played on the Soccer team throughout the fall season. The 2020-2021 soccer season was Schmidt’s first year playing on the MBU Soccer team, and he had to learn how to balance his sport with his college class-load beginning his first semester on campus. Schmidt reflects, “As a student-athlete balancing school and sports is one of the toughest things to do; during the season I try to balance these two by making sure I am always working on either school or soccer.” Schmidt admits that his soccer responsibilities often inhibited his social life, however being a part of a sports team means there is a whole community of other soccer players who can become like family. Schmidt also notes that he appreciates the off-season, as he then has more time to enjoy time with his friends who are not on the soccer team as well.   

Alexis Sponable, Women’s Soccer and Softball

Recent alumna Alexis Sponable played on the women’s soccer and softball teams and found her experience playing on the teams to be extremely beneficial and worthwhile. Her sports encouraged her to do better in her schoolwork. She shares, “I think that balancing schoolwork and a sport is easier than just focusing on schoolwork and not participating in any other extracurricular activity. By playing a sport it made me stay focused and work harder at my school.” An outside motivating factor like a sport can often aid students to get ahead in their studies so that they can enjoy participating in games and practices throughout the week. Noting how rewarding athletics can be, Sponable said, “Athletics is worthwhile because it is an experience like none other. You get to be a part of a different ‘culture,’ you learn valuable lessons that can be used both on and off the field, and you grow in character if you so choose.”  

Taylor Dafoe, Men’s Volleyball

Taylor Dafoe is an accomplished volleyball player. Dafoe is a fourth-year setter, was team captain for the volleyball team in the 2021 season, and set a program record by passing 1,500 career assists. “When balancing school and athletics, school always comes first, as most coaches would say,” Dafoe states. “As an athlete, you are also committed to a team which means looking ahead at your schedule and seeing what needs to be done so you’re not stressed with homework on days you have games or when you have to travel for games.” Dafoe shares that staying on top of his schoolwork allows him to enjoy the sport he is passionate about playing even more because he does not have added stress about schoolwork as he plays. Dafoe also advises incoming freshmen to look ahead at their schedule so that they can remain ahead in their studies so that they intern can have the ability to completely focus on the game.  

 Participating in a sport is a rewarding and enjoyable extracurricular. Balancing school with a sport is reasonable and possible through maintaining a balanced schedule and working ahead on assignments. 

Are you interested in playing a sport in college?  MBU offers men’s and women’s Cross Country, Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer, men’s Baseball, and women’s Softball. Start the conversation now to see how you can become a Maranatha Sabercat.