People at Tufts do a lot. From being involved in musicals, dance companies, participating in various clubs, volunteering for multiple organizations, working a job, and somehow managing to do all their school work, Tufts students tend to have a lot on their plate. And the thing is, we love it. We feel passionate about the things that we do and we love having our schedules filled to the brim. It's how we function.
But, what if, on top of all that you already do, you also spent a solid portion of your day training for a Division III sport? Imagine trying to stay awake for a 9:30 am lecture, after getting up at 7 am to lift after a long night spent studying? Yeah, I can't imagine it either. But, Tufts athletes do it all the time!
Just like any member of the Tufts student body, you'll see student athletes struggling with the waffle machine at breakfast in Carm and making rounds to get more coffee to keep them amped for long hours in Club Tisch. You'll see them get excited when the weather indicates a high of 64 degrees in March, checking their email 30 times in the span of 5 minutes to see if we'll have a snow day in April, and pondering who will be our headliner for Spring Fling.
What we don't see is how these students go above and beyond, putting their heart and soul into the game that they love. Whether it be basketball, volleyball, swimming, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, or any other sport, Tufts student athletes have truly captured what it means to not only work hard, but also play hard. And they do this whether that be for a crowd of hundreds of cheering fans, or just their mom.
It is with this mindset that I interviewed 4 fellow sophomores who are student athletes to find out just why they #wentD3.
Meet Tyler Shapiro: A member of the Men's Varsity Swim Team, from Darnestown, Maryland, majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Engineering Management.
1) What is the best part about being on a team? The best part about being on a team is having a wonderful support system of people that I am so thankful to call my Jumbo fam. We strive to succeed athletically and academically as a team, and it creates a super close bond between all teammates.
2) How do you, as an individual, find a healthy balance between sports, academics, and extracurriculars? What are some challenges you face in trying to find this balance? I actually find that I perform better in all realms of Tufts life when I am in season. I think I am someone who likes to keep busy. I love having a set regimen, knowing how much time I have daily to dedicate to athletics, academics, and extracurriculars. It teaches great time management and allows you to give your best effort in all areas of life. Sometimes, it can be a little overwhelming, but we all push through and things calm down eventually. Taking one week at a time, and knowing that you can get through a week of athletics, academics, and extracurricular, is a pretty awesome feeling.
3) Do you feel like you get an adequate amount of sleep during your season? Because our earliest practice is 8:15 am (besides 7:00 am lift), I do feel that I get enough sleep during season. I am a big proponent of 8 hours of sleep, so I know that I have to be in bed before 12 on a day where I have practice the next morning at 8:15. It's all about time management!
4) What do you enjoy doing when you have downtime/during the off-season? In my downtime on campus, I love to grab coffee or Kosher deli with friends, and have jam sessions with my suite mates. The free time post-season is truly incredible, and I definitely take advantage of it by relaxing a lot more (I can finally sleep in!!).
5) How do you stay motivated? I like to consider myself a pretty motivated athlete and student, but I often find my motivation in others. Watching people work crazy hard everyday, in and out of the pool, reminds me that I, too, can work like that. It's all about having a strong work ethic, and being loud in practice. You have to live off the positive energy of your teammates. It's they who push me daily to work hard in practice and meets.
6) In addition to your team, what are you involved with on campus? Outside of the pool, I am on the Relay for Life Entertainment Committee, involved in greek-life (ATO), Support Staff for Tufts Wilderness Orientation in the Fall 2016, LUX model for Tufts China Care, TDC, Gospel Choir.
7) Humble brag: Low-key crashed the White House Correspondents' dinner with my two best friends from home (shhh).
Meet Mary Gusentine: A member of the Tufts Crew team, from Norfolk, Virginia, majoring in International Relations & Anthropology.
1) What is the best part about being on a team? The community. Rowing is a sport where you have to be both mentally and physically tough and that has cultivated a supportive and enjoyable community.
2) How do you, as an individual, find a healthy balance between sports, academics, and extracurriculars? What are some challenges you face in trying to find this balance? I've always been an early riser, so with practice in the morning, by the time I get back to campus, my day has already started and I have motivation to get work done. I run into challenges with maintaining this balance when I don't get enough sleep.
3) Do you feel like you get an adequate amount of sleep during your season? I would say I get as much sleep as possible. Because I have to wake up really early, I try to prioritize my sleep as much as I can but some weeks don't permit light's out at 10pm.
4) What do you enjoy doing when you have downtime/during the off-season? I enjoy exploring Boston! I love food so I'm always on the hunt for a new restaurant or café.
5) How do you stay motivated? I'm motivated by my teammates. One of the things I love about rowing is that it's the ultimate team sport. All of the rowers in a boat pull together and cross finish line together. Some mornings it's hard to wake up at 5:30 am when it's 20 degrees out, but rowing with my teammates as the sun rises makes it worthwhile.
6) In addition to your team, what are you involved with on campus? Hemispheres: The Tufts University Journal of International Affairs and 180 Degrees Consulting.
7) Humble brag: I learned how to swim before I could walk!
Meet Anique Barch: A member of the Tufts Varsity Volleyball Team from Long Valley, New Jersey, majoring in mechanical engineering.
1) What is the best part about being on a team? Always having a support system. The moment I stepped on campus, I had 16 other girls to hang out with, learn from, and grow with. There's nothing that I'd feel uncomfortable with around these girls and they're some of my best friends.
2) How do you, as an individual, find a healthy balance between sports, academics, and extracurriculars? What are some challenges you face in trying to find this balance? This is definitely something I'm still learning to balance. I'm much busier in the fall because that's when volleyball season is. I know that I can't commit to extracurriculars then, so I focus on volleyball and academics, and can usually stay on top of all my work. In the spring, we're encouraged to get involved which is an awesome aspect of D3 sports, but I tend to overcommit. So this semester, it's been hard balancing everything, but I think each week gets better and better in terms of my time management, which is an important skill, and I absolutely love everything that I'm involved in, so I wouldn't change anything.
3) Do you feel like you get an adequate amount of sleep during your season? I think I do. Generally, I sleep less than a lot of my friends, but before games, I usually take extra care to get enough sleep. So I probably get more sleep in season.
4) What do you enjoy doing when you have downtime/during the off-season? I love taking naps or singing along to my Spotify playlists, and lately with my free time, I've been trying to free read more, because as an engineer, I don't really do a lot of reading, and I've missed it from the summer.
5) How do you stay motivated? Honestly, my teammates are a huge motivation. On the court and in the weight room, I work my hardest obviously because I want to get better, but also because I want to be better for them so that as a teammate, I can contribute toward us reaching our goals. Off the court, we celebrate each other's academic successes, and knowing that my team wants me to do well is very encouraging. My parents are also a huge motivation because they've done so much for me, helping me to get to this point in my life, and I love making them proud.
6) In addition to your team, what are you involved with on campus? This spring for my off-season, I've joined Essence, which is one of Tufts acappella groups that celebrates music of the African diaspora. I've also gotten more involved with my sorority, Chi Omega, and I joined Tufts Dance Collective (TDC).
7) Humble brag: Last spring, I received a scholarship through the Department of Defense, and as part of that, I will be interning at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey this summer.
Meet Dexter Eichhorst: A member of the Tufts Men's Soccer team, from Bolinas, California, majoring in Cognitive Brain Sciences.
1) What is the best part about being on a team? The best part about being on a team is that it serves as a base of operations both academically and socially. It is an invaluable resource in every facet of college life. I'd also say that by having a group of people you're forced to be around a lot, while some parts of it can be frustrating, you have experiences that you wouldn't normally have since you're around these people in lots of different environments. Being on a team and working together is also really rewarding, especially when things go right. You learn a lot of real life skills.
2) How do you, as an individual, find a healthy balance between sports, academics, and extracurriculars? What are some challenges you face in trying to find this balance? I think one of the biggest challenges is giving the proper weight to each of these priorities. There are only so many hours in a day and it is easy to overcommit yourself to any one aspect of what you're doing. And that's an unhealthy approach. The best way for me to stay happy is by staying busy and feeling fulfilled by having a lot of different experiences and making memories. If I'm ever feeling overwhelmed or like I have too much on my plate, then I trim off what I can. I'll do less of whatever is not making me as happy, and focus the most on my biggest source of happiness at any given time.
3) Do you feel like you get an adequate amount of sleep during your season? Actually, no. I need more sleep when I'm on season than when I'm off because of the physical demands. It's a tough question, because I could get more sleep if I really wanted to. But, I also want to have time to do other things like hang out with people and watch TV. Before big games, I definitely try to get 8-10 hours. It's definitely more hectic than off-season.
4) What do you enjoy doing when you have downtime/during the off-season? During the season, when I get emails inviting me to events whether that be from my classes or from clubs, I often can't go because of the time commitment that soccer gives me. So in the off-season, it's nice because I have time to shift my focus and take part in other things that I normally would be too busy to do. I can participate in research opportunities, go on day trips with clubs, and have more time to socialize, especially during the night time since I don't have to worry about next day's practice. It's also nice to have more time to socialize with people I wouldn't normally have the chance to meet. I definitely make 5 times more friends in the off-season.
5) How do you stay motivated? A lot of what keeps me motivated is due to the way in which I look at the things I am experiencing at this point in my life: I only have one shot with a lot of these things, and that's especially true for soccer. When you are passionate about something that you've dedicated so much of your time to, you want to be the best player that you can be. In an academic setting, what keeps me motivated is the feeling you get when you put in hard work and see that rewarded. Once you do this, you create a positive reinforcement cycle. In general, Tufts is a place where everything I'm taking on is something I care about. I'm not doing anything because I feel like I'm supposed to. So, I think it's pretty easy for me to find motivation.
6) In addition to your team, what are you involved with on campus? I'm involved in Imaginet as well as the Bird Watching Club. I do a lot of research with the Psychology department and work at Hodgdon. I also really enjoy taking Ex-College classes. These classes are a nice way to learn about things that interest you and can actually have a meaningful impact. I'm currently in Screenwriting 1 and took Food and Society last semester, which led me to not eat red meat anymore. I'm also a passionate FIFA and Call of Duty Player.
7) Humble brag: I won the Romance Language Department Award for being good at Spanish my freshmen year.
Happy Division III week 2016 (April 4-10).
A big thanks to Tyler Shapiro, Mary Gusentine, Anique Barch, and Dexter Eichhorst for agreeing to be interviewed.