THE BALANCING ACT
“They have this amazing ability to juggle multiple priorities at once,” Gundecha says. “They are less likely to complain about workload and time management issues. They are appreciative of where they are and have a great attitude about school.”
In addition to performing at upper echelon b-schools, a few Ross athletes also happen to be among the best in their respective sports in the world. Jenny Miller is a sophomore at Ross and an equestrian sports world champion. The equestrian sports are not recognized as an NCAA sport, but Michigan supports a team. This means Miller competes with adults of all ages—and wins.
Miller’s schedule is even more complicated than most considering her practice facility is located an hour away from Michigan’s campus in Marshall, Michigan. “Within the academic year, I have to go out on weekends,” Miller says. “From Fridays through Sundays I stay at the barn and ride eight to 10 hours each of those days. So we really have to utilize our summers. I’m there from six to seven days a week during the summer.”
Miller’s season runs from April through October so the majority of her competition is when school is not in session. However, when the competitions do occur, they are a week long. Miller has to be incredibly intentional in making sure schoolwork is taken care of before competitions.
HUGE AMOUNTS OF CLASS TIME IS OFTEN MISSED
Sometimes it takes more than missing just one week. Stecklein took all of last year off to train and compete in the Sochi Olympics in hockey. “It just would have been too hard,” Stecklein says. “Some students will take online classes but I thought it would be too hard to balance both. But it was something that took very little discussion for the coaches and professors (at Carlson). It is something they plan for and know it’s a good reason to miss a player or student for a year. They know it’s an important personal goal.”
Claudia Lau is a swimmer attending Ross and also happens to be training to make the Hong Kong Olympic team. Lau already holds many national records and is a member of the Hong Kong National Swimming Team. She was able to be away from school for two weeks to compete in the Asian Games—which never would have happened in Hong Kong. Lau says the flexibility and support she received from her professors is one of the biggest reasons she decided to pursue higher education in America and specifically at Ross. According to Lau, in Hong Kong students have to either choose sports or academics. Universities do not schedule around athletics.
“Back in Hong Kong, teachers are not as approachable,” Lau says. “Here teachers are very approachable and asking for help is the norm. In Hong Kong, I never reached out for help. Now I reach out a lot. From day one on campus, everyone was very welcoming and the professors understood my situation so well. When I was away at the Asian Games, I was able to keep up because the professors would record lectures and put them online and still had online office hours with me. Professors cannot do that in Hong Kong. Here they really care about and understand students.”
Lau originally looked at UC-Berkeley, the University of Southern California, and “some other California schools” because she had friends there. She knew one professional athlete training at Michigan and that was enough for a visit and ultimately the decision to attend. “The support that Michigan gave us did not compare to the other schools,” says Lau.
FLEXIBILITY AND TIME MANAGEMENT KEY
Imani McGee-Stafford has achieved virtually every possible basketball award since high school. McDonald’s All-American? Check. Big 12 Freshman of the Year? Check. NCAA All-American? Check. She is a four-plus-one master’s student at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business. She believes the key to managing academics and athletics successfully is not only related to time management and flexibility, but also having an immense amount of self-motivation and discipline.
“The coaches can yell at you all they want and your professors can lecture on how they expect more out of you because you are an athlete,” McGee-Stafford says. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about what you want to do. How much do you care about winning the game? How much do you care about getting good grades? Your coach and teacher can only do so much.”