My time at UWaterloo was a fun but very busy one.

I was planning on attending a different school for business, but once UWaterloo offered me the chance to play football for the next five years, I couldn’t say no to that!

Colin Dunn

It was like a match made in heaven when I found out about the Recreation and Sports Business program as well. What more could a student-athlete want from his degree and his athletic life? I thought there would be nothing better than going to school and playing football. However, I was unaware of the challenges that come with balancing sports and school as a student-athlete, and how many lessons the next five years would teach me and ultimately translate into my career.

On the outside looking in, being a student-athlete seems rather glamorous. You get to play a sport you love, representing your school on a large stage, travelling most weekends and everything that comes with being an athlete at the university level. But what you don’t see and what I struggled with is the battle with time management. Coming into first year, I had no clue how to manage my time properly. On top of the countless hours on the practice field, in the weight room and the film study room, I had the demand of being a student at one of the top universities in Canada.

It’s no secret that during my five years with the team (2012-2017), we didn’t see that much success on the field. But the success I found off of the field with the countless lessons I learned, that experience was priceless. Many skills, such as time management and wellness balance, have really helped me in the beginning stages of my career. Being a student-athlete at one of the top schools in the country provided me with an opportunity to learn from my mistakes and build on my skills.

Time management was a crucial skill I had to perfect right away. It was evident after my first semester, when my average was 62, that I had to really understand how to manage everything that was being thrown at me. For the next four years, I managed almost every aspect of my life in and out of school. I made sure I was scheduling every assignment, reading, workout, meals, practice, down time with friends, etc. Of course I would break away from the set schedule sometimes, but the important part is that once I wrote them down, I understood where I needed to allocate more of my time and prioritize accordingly. I found I actually was able to have more free time because I was so efficient in getting things done ahead of time and not panicking!

Colin in football helmet

Speaking of free time, being an athlete and a recreation student, wellness was a huge part of my education. Yet another lesson I have carried forward into my career after UWaterloo. Yes, it is very important to work hard and further your career, but I learned that nothing is more important than your own wellness. Having a work-life balance should be one of the most important aspects of your life. Sometimes football was that balance that was needed. I needed those times where I took time for myself and enjoyed something else I loved.

Those two lessons, and countless more, helped me achieve Academic All-Canadian status in my last two semesters of school (status given to athletes who achieve an 80% or higher average). This was one of my many goals during university, and I am proud to say that I achieved this at one of the top universities in Canada.

Colin Dunn was a player on the Waterloo Warriors football team for five years. He is a former staff member of the University of Waterloo and is currently a Brand Marketing Specialist for Mercedes-Benz Kitchener-Waterloo.