As a representative of the Women’s Ice Hockey team, I would like to illustrate how crucial priority scheduling is for athletes and coaches as well as others on campus. This process has both athletic and academic benefits for us and it is important to see that priority scheduling is not just a pleasure that we wish to have but a necessary approach to improve the academic and athletic experience of athletes.
In past years, we had to practice in groups and at different times every day. Each of these days consisted of a stressful rush to the rink from class in order to get dressed and prepared on time. This would often mean sacrificing lunch time unless you were fortunate to have a class that ended early. If you weren’t rushing to practice from class, then you were one of the players forced to take a night class, which meant rushing to class after your practice session. This would sometimes mean postponing injury treatments and post-workout meals which are important for the health of athletes who put such high demands on their bodies.
Also, having to push back our practice takes away from money brought in from outside parties who rent ice time, which could total near $40,000 each year. Academically, this hectic schedule forced us to show up late or miss more class days than we should be allowed to. It also resulted in many disappointed professors and classmates who believed we were being given special treatment, especially when the school itself has now altered class schedules to keep students in class longer. Wouldn’t it be hypocritical to prevent athletes from being in class as much as possible?
Priority scheduling helps us athletes choose class times that result in less missed classes when traveling for games or rushing from practice. This is helpful for both students and professors alike. We get to stay caught up on class material to maintain good grades, be more involved in class discussions and projects, and refrain from disappointing professors by being late or asking for permission to miss up to 20 percent of class time.
Similarly, professors have less out-of-class assignments and exams to give out and have fewer athletes begging to be signed into classes that are already full. Also, having a larger variety of classes allowed many of us to spread out instead of being forced to take the same classes as each other. This challenges us to be more independent and focus on our own academic achievement as opposed to constantly being seen as the hockey players who stick together on campus.
We realize that at first glance this process creates frustration for non-athletes; however, it also benefits them in some ways. Those who are placed with an athlete for a group project, for example, now have an easier time communicating and working together since we can attend more classes. This also creates a more level playing field in the classroom since many students believe that athletes get off too easy with special treatment on assignments and missed classes. In other words, when you take a closer look at the details, this way of scheduling actually allows us to be normal students. **normal students have a set registered time and date****We can separate our athlete identity from our student identity instead of feeling stuck in the middle of both throughout the day.
As division one athletes, the Women’s Hockey team has a demanding agenda that makes priority scheduling necessary. When considering the weight lifting, on-ice practice, video analysis, team meetings, and “chalk talks” during the week, our team devotes about three to four hours of hard work and focus each day during all three academic terms. This dedication and hard work is necessary and has allowed the school to gain so much respect and reward. It also allows us to showcase and represent Mercyhurst College as we compete against many well-respected schools such as Cornell, Boston College and Wisconsin. This kind of commitment, however, makes it extremely difficult to choose class times that do not cause conflict unless we are able to choose first. This change in scheduling will allow us to continue gaining respect, attention and revenue for the school without cutting into our academic pursuits.
Clearly, this change means a lot to us as hockey players. This small adjustment in the registration process can eliminate a great deal of stress and confusion for the athletes on this campus who make up a large portion of the student body. Many other schools have successfully implemented a similar process, and we believe it is a worthwhile change to make. The difference that priority scheduling made for us this winter is like night and day, and we beg that this assistance not be taken away from us. We hope this information is thoroughly considered when deciding whether or not to continue with this important change.