David, Amaris, and Zao took the time to talk to SAF’s Communications and External Relations team about their experiences being on a varsity team. They shared some tips on how they managed their time between academics and sports. In addition to these three student athletes, seven other student athletes from SAF programs were named on the 2018 President’s Academic Honour Roll, making the university proud.All three athletes played for different varsity teams, football, badminton, and swimming, respectively, which requires a minimum commitment of 25 hours per week. In addition to her athletic and academic commitments, Amaris also juggled a part-time job at the Bombshelter Pub on campus. Amaris, David, and Zao agree that it was a challenge for them to balance their lives between academics, sports, sleep and their social life. Their schedules were busy but they also agree that it was worth the time commitment to represent the University of Waterloo and to continue playing the sport they love.

How do these athletes successfully manage their time? “It all boils down to time management,” says Amaris. Schedules for their academic classes, varsity training, games, and part-time work are provided to students at the beginning of each term. This allowed the athletes to plan their days around their required commitments. They knew when crucial deadlines were approaching, and if they had an important match or competition coming up. Hence, they used a calendar and planner to record all their important dates, deadlines, and tasks in order to schedule their priorities and ensure that they had the allotted time to focus on all their academic commitments as well as extra-curricular activities. Effectively using a calendar and planner allowed them to prioritize academics, sports and work first, and any free time they had was used for catching up with friends, watching TV, or relaxing and reading a book.

For Amaris, a calendar and planner allowed her to see the big picture, “if I had too much on my plate, I’d talk to people I work with and see if I could get shifts covered or I’d talk to my coaches and see if I could get some time off.” Their coaches, friends, peers and professors supported them during these times to help them perform to the best of their abilities. For Zao, setting goals for himself was an important tool he used to ensure he was successful in both his academics and his sport commitments, “having different goals and different timelines for goals helped me stay focused and motivated to manage everything that I was involved in.”

David Larbi rugby game

Our athletes also tell us why students should not be afraid of pursuing their interests to avoid any negative impacts on their academic averages. While achieving good grades and academic standing is an important part of being in university, having a great experience is just as important.  Sometimes, it could be challenging to manage your academics and extracurricular activities but it’s not impossible, especially when you are passionate about something. If you do something you love, you will learn to manage your time so that you can make space in your calendar for that activity. It will act as a reward and a “stress-buster” for you. People are afraid of failing, and that is normal but all our athletes agree that, “you do not always need to be the best at everything. But to know that you are still going to do well, maybe not a 100% is something you have to keep in mind.” To believe in yourself and be confident is the key.

Zao recounts one of his most memorable experiences as a varsity athlete and knowing that his experiences are not unique. In his first season with the varsity swim team, Zao met many like-minded students at his first Ontario Universities Athletics (OUA), who shared the same passion for swimming as him and were experiencing similar challenges as a varsity athlete attempting to balance academic and sport commitments. Being a part of something he cared about so much and knowing that his team, his coaches, his friends, and his professors were there to support him, made all the sacrifices worthwhile.

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