The rewards and challenges of being a Westminster student athlete

Si Ning Chan, sophomore public health major and aerialist on the US Ski Team, clocks in at her job at Westminster’s bookstore. Chan, like many other student athletes, has had to figure out a way to balance work, school and sports during her college years. Photos by Olivia Wathne

Si Ning Chan, sophomore public health major and aerialist on the US Ski Team, clocks in at her job at Westminster’s bookstore. Chan, like many other student athletes, has had to figure out a way to balance work, school and sports during her college years. Photos by Olivia Wathne

Balancing school and sports can be overwhelming, but Westminster athletes aren’t complaining. Many people use college as a time for self-exploration, and student athletes are no different, although balancing schedules and constant travel may make the journey challenging.

Joe Cremer, junior chemistry major, is a track athlete who competes in the 800m, 400m and 1500m races. He said for him, the journey has gotten easier over the past three years.

“This semester, I have began to realize what I want to do with my time, and that has resulted into the easing of my schedule,” Cremer said. “The classes I'm taking now are much more focused toward my bachelor's degree than they were for my past semesters, and my major is something that I enjoy quite a bit, which makes everything more worthwhile.”

Cremer had only good things to say about being a student athlete.

“Adding a sport to the equation honestly eases everything else,”Cremer said. “If I wasn’t a student athlete, I would have no clue what to do in my free time to make everything else worthwhile and ease the wear and tear of school.”

His only complaint is travel time.

“Long road trips are by far my least favorite thing, so if there is one thing I dislike about the sport, it's being held in bus for hours on end,” Cremer said.

The number of hours dedicated toward training and travel varies from each sport but nevertheless makes a dent in student athletes’ schedules.

Joe Cremer, sophomore chemistry major, tutors Dylan Chatters in a reserved room at the Giovale Library. Cremer is a chemistry tutor for the Start Center, works at Westminster’s mail room and competes on Westminster's track team.

Joe Cremer, sophomore chemistry major, tutors Dylan Chatters in a reserved room at the Giovale Library. Cremer is a chemistry tutor for the Start Center, works at Westminster’s mail room and competes on Westminster's track team.

“When I am competing, we train on the ramps about 20–25 hours a week,” said Si Ning Chan, sophomore public health major and aerialist on the US Ski Team. “We have strength training, which probably takes another 10–15 hours, and a lot of the winter is dedicated to travel, as well.”

Last season, Chan was out of the state for more than half of the spring semester. As a result, it will take her about six years to earn her degree.

“The reward outweighs the challenges by far, though,” Chan said. “Westminster has helped a lot of athletes prepare for life after sports, and I knew this was an opportunity that I definitely shouldn’t miss out on.”

Westminster has been nothing but supportive and helpful to student athletes, according to Cremer and Chan. Both have jobs on campus and professors who work with them to coordinate schedules.

“The teachers at Westminster are all super understanding of our athletic careers and endeavors,” Chan said. “I have never had anything but positive experiences regarding my teachers and my athletics.”

A significant amount of change can happen in four years, or more than that in Chan’s case, and goal-setting and improvement are important to both athletes.

“The reason I like improvement so much is that there is a possibility that someday you can become better than you ever thought you could become,” said Cremer, a member of the Westminster track team. “Track is something that I know that I can do and enjoy, but the principle of improvement is the same with everything else, and I know I will in turn become a better student and a person in all of the other things I do.”