Archive for the ‘Smith, Jessie’ Category

The Pressure’s of College Athletics

There is a long list of pressures that accompany being a Division-I student-athlete.

The University of Iowa has its highly-publicized sports teams that compete in front of sold-out crowds and are swarmed by the media following their games and practices.

But outside of those select programs, sit the rest of the Hawkeye sport teams, who put in their share of time and effort despite the lack of outside attention.

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Sarah Pergine Daily Routine

When the Iowa field-hockey team wasn’t competing in one of its 17 regular-season games this fall, the squad stayed busy between juggling school and the responsibilities of their sport throughout the day.

Below is a typical non-game day routine during the season for senior, Sarah Pergine:

Senior Sarah Pergine will conclude her senior campaign with the Iowa field-hockey team this year. (contributed photo from Sarah Pergine)

7:30AM– Wake up, eat breakfast, get books together

8:13 – Leave for class, Research Methods

9:20 – Second class, Nonverbal Communication

10:20 – Head back to apartment

10:30 – Watch TV, check e-mail, eat lunch, get books for next class together, put on practice clothes and pack other practice things

12:15PM – Leave for third class, Politics of Popular Culture

1:20 – End of class, go directly to locker room

1:40 – Watch 30 minutes of film and eat a snack

2:10 – Go to Grant Field, put on equipment, do stick skills on my own

2:30 – Team Warmup:

  • Two laps, dynamic stretching, leg swings x 10, static stretching, accells x 2

2:40 – Practice Begins:

  • Passing in partners
  • Ball control
  • Positional group skills
  • Team/game strategy
  • Set pieces, penalty corners
  • Overtime play

4:35 – End of practice, no cooldown, meet together quickly, take off equipment and leave for lifting

4:45 – arrive at lifting in old Rec. Building, lift on platform above indoor track

4:50 – Weigh-Ins

4:55 – Hurdles and box jumps

5:10 – Programs handed out and explained

5:12 – First set of exercises

  • bar complex 3 x 3 and dumbbell push ups 6 x 3

5:20 – Second super set

  • hang clean to squat 3 x 4 and MB throw + burpee 10 x 4

5:40- Third super set

  • back squat 6 X 5 & dumbbell bench press 6 x 4

5:55– Clean up equipment and team stretch

6:00– Dinner at Hillcrest with team

6:30– Head home

6:35- Change and shower

7:00- Call home

7:30 – 10:30- Homework and studying

10:30-11PM – Watch tv and go to bed

Q: The hardest workout you’ve ever done?

A: “The hardest workout I’ve ever done was in Carver-Hawkeye Arena during my sophomore year in the spring. We were partnered up and while one partner had to run two laps against our other teammates at the top of the concourse, the other partner was to be jumping rope.

The partner running had to jog down a flight of stairs to the course and run back up them (twice). Once the partner running and doing stairs was done, then the two would switch.

Each duo had to run 10 laps total on their own and 20 laps as a groups. The duo that finished first collectively on the team had no stairs to do at the end, second place had one extra flight [of stairs], third [place] had two extra flights and so on until ninth place had eight flights extra to do —Not fun!”

Megan Considine Daily Routine

The Iowa basketball team plays nearly 30 regular-season games this season, travels to over ten states and even out of the country once.

But when the Hawkeyes aren’t suiting up for a game, the team stays busy during the week.

This is Iowa junior, Megan Considine’s daily routine:

Junior Megan Considine in Iowa's 68-62 victory over Kansas State on Dec. 5 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (photo by: Jessie Smith)

7:10AM– Wake up, throw on sweats, brush teeth, wash face
7:30- Leave for Carver-Hawkeye Arena
7:45- Get treatment on my sore muscles and blisters
8:15 -Start shooting around before practice starts
8:30 – Practice officially begins:

  • 10 minute warm up with strength coach: Stretches (moving and on the ground), skips, high knees, shuffles and starts

8:40 – Begin practice drills:

  • 45 minutes of defensive drills: boxing out, two on two and close outs

9:30 – Shoot 15 free throws with a partner, record makes
9:40 – Offensive drills:

  • Circle shots, drive and pitches, jump shots and transition shots

10:00- Work on half-court offense and defense:

  • Practice against grey squad
  • Run through scout plays if  game coming up

10:45- Practice ends, team always meets in the middle to huddle and discuss any important announcements

11:00- Lifting (routines very):

  • Dumbbell bench, front squats, pull-ups, calf raises, hang cleans, dumbbell snatch

11:30 – Shower very fast and throw on some sweats

11:45 – Training table (lunch) at Carver, meals are different each day and are catered by Hyvee 12:10PM – Head to Pappajohn Business Building for classes

4:00 – Head home to relax, check Facebook and watch either E! news or Sportscenter

6:00 – Make dinner and then go somewhere to study, either the IMU or the library

9:00 – Return home and relax a bit before bed

10-10:30 – Go to bed

Q: What is your best memory from the season so far?

“Without a doubt our trip to Cancun over Thanksgiving break. It’s weird not spending that time with my family and with my team instead, but being in the gorgeous weather helps make up for that.

We also came away with two wins out there and I also celebrated my 21st birthday, so it was a pretty amazing trip for a lot of reasons. I’ll never forget it, that’s for sure.”

Athlete’s in Small Sports Still Feeling the Pressure

The same uniform, different styles.

The same city, different locations.

The same mentality, different goals.

The University of Iowa features 22 athletic teams, all of whom wear black and gold. But aside from the visual resemblances shared, each program proves unlike the other.

Of the 22 Hawkeye sports teams, some are highly publicized and regularly receive national attention, but a majority of the Iowa’s smaller sport teams receive limited media attention in a given year.

Between the scarce coverage and minimal hype surrounding Iowa’s less prominent programs still lies the pressures and responsibilities that come with being a Division-I student-athlete.

Dispersed Pressures

No matter the sport, a college athlete’s head coach becomes their new authority figure on campus.

But unlike athletes in larger sports, like University of Illinois basketball player, Lana Rukavina, who said the pressure to perform well stems directly from her coaches,  UI sophomore volleyball player, Allison Straumann said the pressures she feels comes from multiple outlets.

“When you work for something most of your life, such as trying to get a scholarship or making a certain team, a lot of the time the push comes from people who you are closest to, mostly just because you don’t want to let them down,” Straumann said. Coaches and teammates apply pressure just because you want to succeed to make the end result for not only you, but for them better as well.”

Like Straumann, UI field-hockey player and senior, Sarah Pergine, agreed the pressure to perform at a high level branches from multiple people, but the Collegeville, Penn., native also added that  for her, there’s another non-human source that produces an even stronger push.

“Since our program has a long-standing tradition of being a good team, the demand for a win is always there,” Pergine said. “We have winning all-time records against every team in the nation except for three teams so the pride that has been instilled in our program is extremely important to maintain.”

photo credit: Sarah Pergine

Iowa field-hockey player, Sarah Pergine, said she knew Iowa would be the last high level team she would ever compete for. (photo contributed by Sarah Pergine)

Eastern Illinois volleyball player and senior, Erin Hake, said a unique situation in her program this season is the reason she felt this year’s pressures were unlike those she’s felt in previous seasons.

“Our team especially feels pressure from our coaches now just because they both recently came from Penn State, where they won both the women’s and men’s NCAA national championships,” Hake said. “Our assistant coach played professionally and “losing” isn’t necessarily in either of their vocabularies.”

Classroom Responsibilities

Like Rukavina, and a majority of the other names listed on roster’s of larger sports teams, is on a full scholarship to play basketball at Illinois.

Straumann, Pergine and Hake are also on full athletic scholarships to their universities.

But unlike Rukavina, who said since basketball is her top priority, academics are rarely a source of pressure — Straumann, Pergine and Hake felt the opposite.

Hake, a Marion, Iowa, native, said her Midwest location and the lack of professional opportunities in volleyball, are the reasons her academics have always been her top concern at EIU.

“I have never considered playing professionally and have always put academics before volleyball,” Hake said. “…Volleyball on the West coast as a whole, is a lot more competitive and more girls continue on from conferences like the Pac-10, where you can play the sport year-round.”

Field-hockey does not offer a professional future after college, either. Pergine said there are national field-hockey teams, but that she has never considered pursuing the sport after graduation.

Pergine said coming to Iowa and knowing the Hawkeye roster would be the last lineup card her name would ever appear on, has positively impacted her career in Iowa City.

“Since we do not have an opportunity to be a professional in my sport, it almost makes us as athletes cherish our time and collegiate athletic career more,” Pergine said. “Because for the majority of us, these are the last few years we can ever compete at a high level.”

Christina Johnson, Ph.D., and lecturer in health and human physiology, with an emphasis in sports psychology, said an student-athlete’s attitude towards their sport can greatly impact their academics.

“I think in terms of life outcomes, the number of student-athletes who will go on to play their sport professionally is really so small,” Johnson said. “The percentages are not great at all and definitely in women sports, professional basketball is about only option a female athlete would have.

“So to put the emphasis on that ‘I’m an athlete, not a student’ can shift the focus away from the classroom stuff, and by doing that, they might start to struggle in their classroom lives.”

Out of Uniform

No, there are not usually reporters lining press row leading up to the start of a regular season volleyball game for Straumann or Hake, nor do the bleachers at Iowa field-hockey games typically contain more than a few hundred fans.

Eastern Illinois volleyball player, Erin Hake, said because the team's schedule is so busy, she rarely visits her home in Marion, Iowa, during the school year. (photo contributed by Erin Hake)

But this lack of outsider attention given to smaller sport teams does not make maintaining the integrity or image’s of these programs any less important.

Pergine and Straumann both noted their team’s no alcohol rule or “dry policy.”

Straumann said this rule doesn’t always seem necessary because the team’s busy schedule doesn’t make the partying habits of a typical college student “physically possible.”

“Basically from July to until the end of November we aren’t allowed to drink or go downtown,” Straumann said. “The reason for this is so that as athlete, we set a good image for other people that we are completely dedicated to our sport, and to our teammates, that 100 percent of our efforts and energy are being given to our sport.”

Like Rukavina, Hake said she and her teammates are expected to carry themselves in a deliberate manner when out in public.

Hake said this rule is strictly enforced on her team, and that she had the misfortune of “learning the hard way,” her first year at EIU.

“Our program strongly encourages athletes to never wear other universities clothing on campus or pretty much anywhere if it’s not EIU gear,” Hake said. “If we got caught, our coach would  make us run five suicides for every letter of that university. I did this my freshman year when I wore a Wisconsin sweatshirt —I learned my lesson.”


Pressures of highly-publicized college sports

A majority of students who go away to college pay hefty sums of money in exchange for the four years of hospitality.

But in rare, special instances roles get reversed and universities find themselves passing the big bucks in the opposite direction.

As a result of these unusual circumstances, the recipients of these highly-prized scholarships have their fair share of obligations to their universities.

Whether that responsibility be juggling a full course load, participating in community service events or hitting the gym for practice, these student-athletes are held accountable for their every move.

New Authority

As college athletes arrive on campus they wave goodbye to their parents then turn around to greet their new authority figures.

Lana Rukavina, University of Illinois basketball player, said despite the importance her school and its fans place on winning, the most pressure to excel on the hardwood stems from this new authority.

Rukavina plays center for The University of Illinois basketball team. (contributed photo from Lana Rukavina)

“I think most of the pressure [to perform well] comes from my coaches,” Rukavina said. “They put so much time and effort into promoting the team and coaching us during practice, so we know we have to do the same. So they definitely put the most pressure on us.”

Megan Considine, University of Iowa basketball player, said the previous season’s results have a lot to do with the amount of pressure coaches put on the players.

“There’s always expectations coming into new seasons,” Considine said. “Usually  it’s a reflection of what your team did in the past. So there’s always pressure put on you right away [from coaches] to perform up to those expectations and take it to the next level.”

Christina Johnson, Ph.D., and lecturer in health and human physiology, with an emphasis in sports psychology, said because coaches are the most prominent figures in college-athletes’ daily lives, the greater pressure felt from coaches, instead of fans or peers, is to be expected.

“I would imagine the pressure [on college athletes] kind of has a waterfall effect,” Johnson said. “There’s public pressure on the Athletic Department, and the Athletic Department puts pressure on the coach, and the coach then puts the pressure on the athlete.”

“So the athlete might never experience the public scrutiny, but I’m sure they know in the back of their head that it’s there.”

School Obligations

Despite taking a 15 semester-hour course load, Rukavina, a psychology major, said basketball is her top priority.

Rukavina said keeping up with academics can get stressful and overwhelming at times, but overall her schoolwork does not attribute to the pressure she feels as a college-athlete on a regular basis.

“I don’t think it’s so much that the academics effect [the pressure],” Rukavina said. “Yes we are one of the top academic schools in the nation, but at the same time, that’s not necessarily why we’re here. Realistically, we’re here for sports.”

Ashley Wilson, Purdue University basketball player, said her busy basketball and school schedules can put a lot of pressure on her to properly manage her time.

Wilson’s routine consists of class in the morning, a three-hour practice, an hour of weight lifting and then “study table,” the two-hour time slot the team dedicates to keeping up with school work.

Wilson said her teachers typically acknowledge her long list of priorities, which helps her relieve some of the day-to-day pressures of being a college athlete.

“Teachers are for the most part nicer and more understanding with the timeliness of stuff,” Wilson said. “We miss class often so they usually let us take exams later or earlier, and [teachers] give us extensions on things.”

Rukavina and Wilson are both on full athletic scholarships at Illinois and Purdue, which Johnson said can contributes to why college athletes feel obligated to make their sport their top priority.

But Johnson also noted the negative to this obligation, because of the small number of college athletes that have a professional future in their sport.

“When you play for the NCAA you’re not an athlete, you’re a student-athlete,” Johnson said.”That’s very specific in [the NCAA’s] terminology, that you are a student hyphen athlete.”

“And the student part really disappears for a lot of the students because so much time is spent with their sport, and their scholarship is based on their sport performance and I think that can be damaging in a lot of ways.”

Social Experience

When outside the gym, Rukavina, Considine and Wilson are expected to carry themselves in a specific manor.

Rukavina and Wilson said their coaches banned the use of Twitter to prevent any mis-communications that might jeopardize their team’s image.

Considine said Iowa has not implemented any rules against the use of social-networking sites, but like Illinois and Purdue, Iowa’s coaches have a strict set of behavior rules in place.

“[My teammates and I] have to make sure that we’re always being smart with where we are, and what we’re saying to people,” Considine said. “Everything reflects back to being a part of the Iowa women’s basketball team. It’s hard sometimes to remember that, but it is something each day that I’m trying to think about, I know I’m out representing more than just myself now.”

Aside from behavioral obligations, Rukavina and Wilson said their teams are heavily involved with fans and the community.

Wilson said her team interacts face-to-face with the members of “The Boilermaker Network,” a particularly dedicated group of fans, at least five times throughout the season.

Because Iowa does not have any professional sports teams, Considine noted the state’s fans strong dedication to the school’s athletic programs.

Considine did not see this extra attention as any added pressure, but instead she said the team uses the heavy support to their advantage.

“Some people would say [the lack of professional teams] adds pressure,”  Considine said.”But I think it makes Iowa a better place to play because you have more of a fan base. I’ve only known Hawkeye fans to be loyal and true to the school, so I don’t see [the heavy fan support] as added pressure. I just think it’s an added benefit of being a Hawkeye.”

Despite the extra responsibilities, Wilson said she does not regret her decision to be a college athlete.

“You really do miss the experience of being a regular student and getting done with class at like two and not knowing what to do with yourself,” Wilson said. “But that’s about it. I’d choose to be an athlete over just a regular student any day.”

Finding Balance

It’s 7 a.m., Monday morning, and junior Leah Conroy is awoken by the high-pitched beeps blaring from her cell phone, an alarm the 20-year-old set just five hours earlier.


Conroy finished her closing shift at DC’s bar in downtown Iowa City at 2 a.m. and curled up in her bed after packing her lunch and laying out her scrubs for the rapidly approaching eight hour school day.

The UI Radiology student takes classes at the UI Hospital, five days a week, eight hours a day, while also juggling her part-time job at DC’s where she averages 40-hours a week.

When Conroy made her decision to attend Iowa in 2008, she was aware of her new financial burden that accompanied being a Hawkeye.
But when Iowa City passed its new 21-ordinance in June 2010, Conroy wasn’t ready for the toll the regulation would take on her income.


Financial Responsibilities
The Byron Ill. native knew she wanted to be a Hawkeye during her senior year of high school.

But Conroy was no exception to her two older sisters, Emily 24, Haylee 23, both of whom took complete financial responsibility for their college expenses.

Despite working at DC’s for over two years, Conroy said time management has still been an ongoing problem throughout her college career.

“The toughest part about managing [work and school] is probably getting over scheduled at work,” Conroy said. “I only have a couple hours after school to do homework and then I have to go in and close. I’m exhausted the next day for class, but I don’t have a choice I have to work”


Conroy said she uses student loans to pay her tuition and depends on her DC’s pay checks for rent and utility bills, parking expenses, groceries, and miscellaneous costs, a total she estimated to be about 600 dollars.

21- ordinance

Dc’s has always been a 21-only bar, which Conroy said makes the ordinances’ impact less detrimental, but still noticeable.

“The whole scene of downtown is totally different,” she said. ”Since there are less people [downtown] there are obviously less in the bars. You can really tell the affects on the weekday nights that used to be busy like our Tuesdays,  but now maybe one random bar a night will get busy and that’s about it.”

Conroy said prior to the 21-ordinance she earned an average of $70 a night on weeknights and $150 per night on weekends.
Football season has helped maintain the weekend crowds in DC’s, but Conroy said she has seen her weekday incomes dwindle to fewer than 20 dollars on certain occasions.

“You don’t know your money like you used to,” Conroy said. “You used to know by day a minimum of what you’d probably make, but now its luck of the draw on what nights are going to be busy.”

Conroy’s roommate, junior Julie Euyoque works at Bo James, another previously 21-only bar.


Euyoque too claims sole responsibility for her college finances, and depends on her biweekly Bo James paycheck to cover her bills.

Conroy’s roommate said because she works mostly lunch shifts during the week, her income has been dramatically lower because students seem to be avoiding the bars all together.

“The ordinance has had a domino affect,” Euyoque said. “We were a 21-only bar before so the night shifts haven’t been hurt as bad, but during the day students just don’t go downtown anymore to even eat or shop, so they aren’t aware of even the lunch deals we have.”

Conroy said her job at DC’s hasn’t been producing enough income to pay her monthly expenses and if the 21- ordinance doesn’t get reversed, she will be forced to seek employment out of the bars.

Conroy (left), Euyoque (right), enjoying their time away from school and work.

School Commitments
The UI Radiology school’s schedule mirrors the hours of a full-time job, a task that Conroy said she was originally ready to handle.

When the junior was accepted into the radiology program in 2009, she had no choice but to quickly master prioritizing school and work responsibilities.


“I have just gotten used to being tired,” Conroy said. “I usually sleep five hours a night at the most. After school I have to decide whether I can afford to take a nap before work or if I have to study for that extra few hours.”

Despite the class and work overload, Conroy has managed to maintain a B-average her sophomore year, and said she is steadily improving on that feat.


Conroy’s other roommate, junior Amanda Duski, questioned her housemate’s ability to juggler her priorities.


“I don’t know how [Leah] does [balances school and work],” Duski said. “I’ve never had a job in college and I still feel tons of pressure from school and feel like I never have any free time, she’s nuts.”

College football player commits suicide

This is an article about Owen Thomas, a 21-year old junior who played football at The University of Pennsylvania. Thomas had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a type of brain damage that is common in professional athletes and leads to abnormal behavior.

My first source is Dr. Ned Amendola, the Director of the UI Sports Medicine Center. Dr. Amendola localizes this story because he works closely with the UI football team, so he can talk about how the team handles concussions and similar head injuries that come along with playing football. I went to the Iowa sports website and looked at the football team’s roster and found Dr. Amendola.

My second source would be Mr. Chris Doyle, the football team’s head strength and conditioning coach. This CNN article mentioned a lot of precaution’s teams can take to avoid horror stories like the one U of Penn is dealing with. Coach Doyle localizes this story a lot because he can address how, if any, of the drills the team does takes special precautions for brain injuries, and how the team is affected by stories like Owen Thomas’. I also found Coach Doyle off the Iowa athletic homepage on the football team’s roster.

Leah Conroy

Aside from being a full-time student in the UI Radiology school, Leah Conroy works as a cocktail waitress at DC’s Bar in downtown Iowa City. The 21-ordinance has taken a noticeable toll on the junior who is responsible for paying her entire list of college expenses on her own.

Despite the drastic increase in college tuition rates and expenses, Conroy still got herself out of the house after high school and off to college despite the historically high-price of doing so.

Local blogger for Iowa City’s Press Citizen, Bob Elliott, expresses his approval of the recent ordinance that Conroy blames for her decreases work profits this school year.

There are numerous Facebook groups of fellow IC student’s who express their views on the cities 21-ordinance.

I found my first article on CBS news. I purposely wanted to reference a national news source because I wanted to compare Leah’s situation with the rest of the population at large. Since the issue of college costs is heavily number based, going to a credible national news source proved to be the best way to ensure my numbers were accurate. CBS was one of the first link thats popped up when I was searching for an article, as we talked about in class that means it had the most views. I wanted to make sure I was referencing an an article that was written by a professional versus one by a high schooler.

The second link I referenced was a blog written by The Press Citizen’s Bob Elliott. I went for a more local focus for this link because the 21-ordinance is solely an Iowa City issue, which makes Elliot an expert on the topic. There is no sense in referencing a huge news source like CBS in this case because they do not know nearly as much about Iowa City and what is going on here.

I linked my third source to a Facebook conversation about the 21-ordinance. I was hesitant at first to choose Facebook, but because Leah is a college student, and has an account on the site, it seemed extremely appropriate. The conversation offered multiple links to different stances on the 21-ordinance and had a high membership which therefore gave the group some credibility.