SportsThe Hard Knock Life: The life of a student-athlete
The Hard Knock Life: The life of a student-athlete
March 29, 2015
March 29, 2015

Many of those following the UAAP season hear more about how their school’s athletes compete on the court than in the classroom. It is common for student-athletes to be asked on how they deal with the pressures of their sport while most forget that they have exams and projects waiting for them at their classes. This month, The LaSallian sheds light on the life of DLSU student-athletes as well as some professors who taught a number of these athletes.


In the eyes of a teacher

For Mr. Al James Untalan, a former professor of the International Studies Department, teaching student-athletes was a worthwhile experience saying, “It’s actually fun and interesting. It gives me an opportunity to get to know the student behind the athlete.” He added that he is very proud of his students whenever he sees them play and win while he also feels their pain in times of defeat.

Untalan, who taught International Sports (SPOINTL) twice and Introduction to Global Society (INTGLOS) once to student-athletes, shared that his teaching approach is almost the same for all of his students, regardless if they are athletes or not. However, for student-athletes, he uses their sports during class discussions to better explain the lesson. “In explaining wars for example, I tell them to recall the hardest games they have fought so far,” he says. He also admitted that it was a challenge to bear with the athletic responsibilities of his students as he once experienced entering the classroom with only two students present.

The former International Studies professor acknowledges that juggling sports and academics is not an easy task and having that kind of responsibility can help inspire other students to strive hard to achieve their own goals in life. “While the regular students complain about their academic workload, the athletes worry on how to bring honor for DLSU,” he comments. However, Untalan stressed that it is important that student-athletes give equal importance to both their sport and academics, adding that they shouldn’t take their student managers for granted. “It does not matter how good of an athlete you are if you do not take your studies seriously,” he advises.

Ms. Mitzie Conchada, who has taught College of Liberal Arts (CLA) and School of Economics (SOE) students among others, also had experiences in teaching student-athletes. She admits that most of the athletes she taught were low-key, adding that unless they’re the more popular ones, it’s usually the presence of student managers that alert her of the presence of athletes in her class.

“I’ve had a few student athletes who did really well in their academics and [in] my experience what that [did was that] it inspired his peers in class to do well also,” she says.

Conchada also adds that despite their status as student athletes, she’s not one to give them special treatment. She firmly believes that they should be treated equally with the rest of the student body, because they are first and foremost, students.

“Sometimes, I just have to challenge them to do their best in my subject,” she mentions, adding that though student managers have been helpful to the athletes, there are instances when the position
is also abused.

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The student-athlete’s take

Despite the common notion that birds of the same feather flock together, some athletes have differing ideas when it comes to being put together in the same classes. On one hand, having athletes in one class can potentially instill camaraderie and develop a sense of teamwork off the court. However, there may be times wherein having many athletes in one room could affect the class’ general performance.

“I think that they shouldn’t be blocked together because athletes tend to be rowdy,” Lady Archer Alyanna Ong mentions, adding that she and her teammates have had experiences wherein output wasn’t submitted on time.

“I could see the benefit of having us [athletes] all together–it would make things easier for some professors especially if the teams with the same [tournament dates] were together,” Green Jin Kyle Uy says when asked about having athletes put together in one class.

However, when it comes to student-professor relationships, both Ong and Uy agree that the faculty members they have encountered have generally been very considerate, especially with helping them make up for certain requirements due to their conflicting schedules with games and tournaments. Though Ong mentions an instance wherein an unnamed professor didn’t give her a fair grade for missing out on an exam day, but she says that the rest of her professors have been more helpful in helping her catch up.

“Once, I had a competition abroad for FIBA, and my professors were considerate with giving me special assignments to make up for the activities that I missed,” she recounts.

Even with all the glory and accolades that come with playing sports, the life of a student athlete is really hard. It’s a given that students will have academic work done both in and out of school but student-athletes have to worry about their practices and games, which at times overlap with their academic lives. Though they have had understanding professors along the way, both Ong and Uy understand that at the end of the day, it’s still up to them to get the work done.

“If one lacks time management it’s very easy to lose balance,” Uy mentions, adding that he does his best to plan out his schedule well. “It’s not so bad, one simply has to plan ahead in order to stay afloat.”

“We need more sleep and rest to recover, so we have to manage our time well,” Ong adds. “Sometimes we don’t get to study or just study an hour before class because we’re too tired to study at night. But being a student-athlete is very fulfilling since we get to study for our future and play the sport we love for the name of La Salle.”