March 31, 2023
Cassey Leader, a woodworking student and a member of the Conestoga women’s softball team, at 200 Old Carriage Drive, Kitchener,  Ont., Nov. 19,2018. Photo by Keegan Lavigne, Spoke News

There are many student athletes at Conestoga College and there is a lot of commitment that comes with playing a sport. The difficult part of being a student athlete is balancing academics and athletics.

Sydney Johnson, a bachelor of community and criminal justice student and a member of the Conestoga women’s softball team, says the benefits of getting involved in varsity sports are significant.

“For me, I moved away from home, so getting to meet new people and the softball team really became my support system and my family away from home,” said Johnson.

Her teammates, she said, were always willing to help her out, whether it was getting a ride somewhere or being a little forgiving if she had to be late for practice.

“They would always help me study for tests,” she said, adding that the players on the team are very committed to their academics as well.

Cassey Leader, a woodworking student and also a member of the Conestoga women’s softball team, agrees.

“In my opinion, it’s meeting everyone, especially last year my first year coming into college not knowing anyone, I knew a couple girls on the team from the city league, but now I am a lot closer with them, they became my closest friends,” said Leader.

Asked if there are any benefits for the athletes at Conestoga College, she replied that athletes are eligible for awards at the annual banquet.

Johnson added: “I got $450 for being a student athlete at the end of last season for being a student athlete and for my grade point average.

Fayed Mohammed is a office administration executive student and a member of the men’s soccer team at Conestoga College. Photo by Keegan Lavigne, Spoke News

Fayed Mohammed, an office administration executive student, and Fariss Hassan, a technology foundations student, also talked about some advantages of being a student athlete at Conestoga College. Both are members of the men’s varsity soccer team.

“There are a lot of pros,” said Mohammed. “You meet a lot of people, you get to socialize with them, and your teammates are people you look forward to hanging out with at school.”

He said sports are beneficial because you stay active and you get to improve as an athlete, gain experience, and you get to compete against other colleges.

Hassan agreed: “You have something to look forward to other than school. You come to school firstly for your education, but after that you have to have something to be excited about. I get through my day knowing I have soccer at the end of it.”

Mohammed also talked about the athletic banquet and its benefits.

“At the banquet, I believe there are a lot of scholarships for student-athletes, so that’s really good,” he said.

Playing a sport has its benefits but it becomes difficult to manage one’s time and balance both athletics and academics.

“It’s extremely stressful. We have practice six days a week — and games,” said Johnson. “Each practice was two hours, so we’d practice on average 12 hours a week, and, on top of that, we had our in-class hours as well.”

Her class schedule, however, never conflicted with softball.

“I always put school before ball. I would never miss any classes for ball,” Johnson said.

Sydney Johnson is a bachelor of community and criminal justice student and a member of the Conestoga women’s softball team. Photo by Keegan Lavigne, Spoke News

Johnson said that they did have a few away games that required the players to leave class early, but she always found alternative ways to get to her games. The softball team had two to three game days a week, but each game was a double header, so it consumed a lot of hours during the week, leaving minimal time for school work.

The softball season went from September to October which is half of first semester. The team played 22 games in total.

“Last year it was a lot easier to manage school and sports because of the strike, but this year it’s my second year in a degree program, so there is a lot of homework, essays and assignments. Softball is very demanding, so it was very hard,” said Johnson.

Johnson used a planner which was colour-coded, to stay organized. She said she is a very organized person.

“I would always bring a change of clothes to school, so I could make it to practice after class,” said Johnson.

Leader agrees: “It’s definitely really busy. We have practice Monday through Thursday and then there’s probably a game somewhere in there, as well games on the weekend. So there’s not a lot of time for school or if you have a part-time job.”

Leader has two-part time jobs, so it was very difficult for her.

Being a student-athlete, she said, was definitely difficult to manage — and is a major commitment for a college student.

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