45°F & Clear 7 day forecast Saturday, April 19, 2014

Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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T&F athletes master time management at GV

The short list of priorities for an average college student often includes cramming at the last possible moment to pass an exam while finding time to donate plasma in order to pay for the $5 cover charge at this weekend’s kegger.

But some of these millennials are too busy putting in 12-hour days seven days a week to further their passions.

These individuals are known as “student athletes.”

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Sophomore Jay Lechner in practice on Tuesday. GVL / Hannah Mico.

The student athletes belonging to head coach Jerry Baltes’ track and field program are expected to manage 10 to 15 hours of practice a week, a full load of classes, and weekends that belong to a team for the majority of the school year.

“There’s no question to whether it’s worth it or not,” sophomore distance runner Ethan Barnes said. “You see the athletes who have been through coach’s program, and what they go onto do with their lives after is remarkable. You definitely sacrifice long days in the process, but at the end, I can imagine how ‘worth it’ it’s going to be.”

The average athlete needs to be deliberate with the time they have in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid feeling overwhelmed with expectations both on and off the track.

They consistently have to micro-manage every aspect of their daily lives so they don’t fall into a downward spiral.

“My day usually starts at 6:30 a.m. with our first practice of the day,” Barnes said. “After that, I have a heavy load of classes in the morning. Then practice again at 2 p.m. After practice, I focus on my studies for a couple of hours, then head to bed and wake up in the morning to do it all over.”

Perhaps in comparison, the aforementioned partying plasma-donors don’t have it so bad after all. They may even begin to question how members on the track team stay eligible.

Well, they have done more than stay eligible.

The women’s track and field team has won the USTFCCCA Indoor Scholar Team of the Year award for three straight years dating back to 2010, and the men also got in on the action by winning the award in 2013.

“The biggest thing for our kids is that they keep everything in perspective,” Baltes said. “It’s a day-by-day process. You can’t go through the motions and expect to have success on and off the track. We preach to our kids to stay on top of things. I think they do a good job of that.”

The day-by-day process has yielded results for the Laker program on a year-to-year basis, and for Baltes’ teams, that often comes in the form of championships or accolades at the national level.

It’s not easy to consistently stay on their grind, but the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel seems to shine a brighter shade of Laker blue every year.

“The great thing about our team is that everyone understands the struggle each individual goes through for this team in order to succeed,” sophomore thrower Jay Lechner said. “Everyone goes through the long days, but we know that if we achieve our goals, it will all be worth it.”

So to those party-seeking procrastinators struggling to make it through the winter semester, just remember that your agenda could be a whole lot more demanding.

Work hard, stay focused on the process, and watch your goals come to fruition.

Or, if you have time, head over to the Kelly Family Sports Center on Friday at 3 p.m. to witness the Lakers’ dedication live at the GVSU Tune-Up meet.



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