Studying as an Athlete

By Kara Macdermid

As someone whose goal is to be an elite international athlete, I spend a lot of time training, recovering from training, and in a tired state from training. And that’s not even when I am traveling for races, both in New Zealand and overseas. Looking at this, studying may not seem an easy option. Its not, but that doesn’t mean people who spend a lot of time doing co-curricular activities shouldn’t do it. A lot of people who are at a high level in other areas find they excel academically as well, and often have a mindset where they don’t want to give it up. This was the case with me.

Studying by distance has allowed me to get work done reasonably flexibly. When I am tired I can take a break. When I have a race coming up, I can ease off a bit and catch up the next week. Something I particularly like is the ability to split the work up into small blocks. This is something I did when studying at school and I learn really well this way. It is an advantage of distance learning that you can study in the style that best suits you. Admittedly, there is a certain amount of self-motivation and management needed, but these are skills that are useful to have throughout life, so developing them while studying is important and very useful. Often for sportspeople, these traits are in abundance anyway.

One of the disadvantages of learning by distance is the loneliness, for want of better words. It is nice to have someone to discuss work with, and socialize with, and studying by distance can take some of this away. I am looking forward to the more practical papers I will be doing internally next semester for this reason. It will probably be more difficult for me, while training than distance learning, but will add more fun hopefully. At the Manawatu campus there are nice fields to run around between classes, and because I have been able to study by distance over summer school, I only have three papers to do per semester which takes stress out by spreading out the workload.

Studying is a different side to life than the sport, or other co-curricular activities that may dominate, and if it is something you enjoy, is good for keeping a balanced life. For someone like me, who has always loved learning and school, I want to keep it up, as well as my sport. It can benefit me for sport by keeping me relaxed (well, at least sometimes), and happy. In the words of Sherlock Holmes: “my mind repels at stagnation.” Studying, or actively engaging in something you enjoy, can help keep you focused and alert in all areas of life.

Massey is great for sportspeople, because of the distance study option, summer school option and good facilities on the campuses. Being able to continue pursuing study and sport, hopefully both at a high level, is fantastic. I know of many sports people who have done so, which is encouraging, and I am looking forward to seeing how it pans out for me in the future.

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