I remember way back in the summer of 2003 when I was sitting with a couple hundred of my peers in a large lecture hall on the campus of SUNY Fredonia. As prep before student-teaching, all of us senior were required to sit in on a two-hour presentation that would prepare us for our upcoming student-teaching placements. We were encouraged to not maintain a job during our placement because of the importance of the upcoming 8-week placements.
Some of my friends decided that they were going to quit playing sports and their jobs. Others quit playing sports but kept their jobs. I stayed on the track team and also kept my job in the college fitness center.
From my perspective, this was the type of structure I needed in my life. I knew I would be student-teaching from 8am-3pm, at work from 4-6, then off to practice until 8. I’m not ashamed to say that I probably missed more classes than I attended during the first couple of years at Fredonia. My grades certainly reflected it. I was not very good at managing my time. I was very focused on training and throwing. That is about it.
It wasn’t until the summer between my sophomore year and junior year that I realized I needed to get in gear or I wasn’t going to have the minimum gpa required to student-teach. I didn’t know it at the time, but we didn’t actually have a minimum cumulative gpa needed to student-teach, but that we needed to have a gpa greater than 3.0 in our education focused courses in order to student-teach.
The thought of letting my parents down and not being able to student-teach was enough for me to get my coursework in order, attend my classes, and ensure I was going to graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree in Childhood Education.
What I realized is that in order to get my life in order, I need to better manage my time on campus. I needed to prioritize my assignments in a way that would give me the best opportunity to complete everything on-time, while also give myself enough time to attend practice, go to the trainers, and to get my weight room training sessions in.
During my senior year, the time management piece became much clearer. To be honest, my senior year went much smoother than it probably should have. The consequences to not do well were far too severe and steep to not be focused and diligent on the task(s) at hand. Sure, everything didn’t go well all the time. I graded papers during my shift in the weight room on a fairly regular basis. Training at 8 or 9 in the evening was getting old. And believe it or not I actually missed a few dinners along the way. However, the light at the end of the tunnel was dimly lit in August of 2003. It would get brighter as the academic year went on.
Fast forward to 2010. I was sitting in a conference room at Erie 2 BOCES. I was attending a train the trainer course for The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was a three-day course that I attended with about 15 other people. Once trained, I was able to provide the training to others in Western, NY. I started implementing one of the habits with my collegiate athletes immediately-Habit 3 Put First Things First.
There are a lot of great videos on YouTube that have been posted over the years that demonstrate the importance of putting first things first, especially by prioritizing your time in a way that you can be successful in achieving your goal or outcome. Taking this idea and implementing it with college athletes, it is important to prioritize your time and manage it in a way that gives you the best opportunity to achieve your goal(s) regardless of what they are.
Since I started coaching at Nazareth College a few years ago, the coaching staff gives a presentation focused on putting first things first. We ask our athletes to bring a couple of their course syllabus. We lay out a calendar for them, and ask them to fill in their calendars with their assignments for the semester. Our students at Nazareth have access to tutoring services, writing workshops, drop in study hall hours, and homework assistance. However, in order to access most of these services, they need to call in advance, or schedule appointments on-line. They do encourage students to schedule appointments at least one week before a specific assignment is due. This requires that students on campus have an idea of what is due when, and to have some foresight into assignments due in the future.
The suggestions I give my athletes about managing their time on campus go like this:
You won’t find anything ground-breaking here. I unfortunately learned the hard way when I was an undergraduate student. I try to encourage my current athletes to have a plan in place and schedule their study and homework time. It sounds like common-sense, but common-sense seems to be a lot less common nowadays.
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Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.