Luther College Chips

Striking a balance in school and sports

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Anna Larson (‘19) makes a pass to a teammate during a 2017-18 season set against Wartburg College.

Anna Larson (‘19) makes a pass to a teammate during a 2017-18 season set against Wartburg College.

Photo courtesy of Photo Bureau

Photo courtesy of Photo Bureau

Anna Larson (‘19) makes a pass to a teammate during a 2017-18 season set against Wartburg College.

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Hundreds of Luther student-athletes are now in the midst of their fall seasons which comes with the balancing of academics, athletics and additional activities. These students spend their sports seasons doing all that they can to succeed both on and off the field.

Volleyball outside hitter Anna Larson (‘19) keeps a certain schedule and habits during the fall season.

“It’s busy,” Larson said. “What I do during the season is I get all of my homework done before 8 p.m. so I can actually sleep…I need my sleep so I can actually perform well in sports, and academics too.”

Like Larson, all the student-athletes depend on sleep for their performance in the classroom and on the court. Starting guard for Men’s Basketball Jared Nicolaisen (‘19) and his teammates struggle to find time to care for themselves.

“[During] road games you don’t get a lot of sleep, because if you get back from Nebraska it might be two or three in the morning,” Nicolaisen said. “And then you have to wake up and some guys go to 8 a.m. [classes].”

Student-athletes come across many other challenges during their seasons. Women’s Cross Country Coach Yarrow Pasche sees her athletes work through challenges daily.

“They take everything very seriously,” Pasche said. “For them, everything is at a really high standard, and so that doesn’t mean they all get Cs, or just do the workout. However, if I can lower their stress level and have them more relaxed going into a test, race, or workout, it’s gonna help them enjoy it, learn from it, and improve.”

The challenge of achieving athletic and academic success requires athletes to utilize skills that can be applied in day -to-day life and beyond graduation. Larson learned many useful skills as a student athlete.

Photo courtesy of Photo Bureau
Jared Nicolaisen (‘19) sets up for a shot during the 2017 season game against Wartburg College.

“I’m applying to grad schools right now and I feel like I could actually tackle rigorous coursework in graduate school,” Larson said. “It’s all because I’ve been able to keep my grades up while having three hours of volleyball a day.”

Athletes and their coaches know the degree of effort that goes into maintaining their daily routines. The number of hours athletes spend practicing or competing is misconstrued as the only area of focus athletes have. Pasche has heard this idea expressed about her athletes.

“[It is often misinterpreted] that they only care about their athletics,” Pasche said. “Often our runners will head out on a run and discuss environmental issues or spend the whole run talking in Spanish. There’s a lot that goes on even while they’re at practice that’s beyond the scope of the sport.”

Luther’s student-athletes can strive for success in competition, and be just as devoted to their education. According to Larson, this is one of the many perks being a Division III athlete has.

“Division III is awesome because it is still so competitive, but we also strive to do really well in academics,” Larson said. “[We] have high standards in both athletics and academics I think, especially here at Luther.”

Striving for success in school and sports is challenging, but athletes choose to work through this challenge for one reason: passion.

“It’s about following your passion for athletics,” Nicolaisen said. “I get four years to pursue athletics, as does anyone with any extracurricular, you only get four years of it to invest it. That’s what makes it worth it.”

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