Student athletes juggle school work and time on the road

By Lori O'Keefe
Roncalli Central High
Port Saunders, Newfoundland

Ten math questions, a language assignment, physics homework and studying for a chemistry test, all to be done for Mondays classes. Not a problem you think, right? You would have all weekend to do it!

But what if you were gone all weekend and had missed two days of classes when this work was given. Most students would find this a very difficult task to complete considering the situation. But according to some student athletes, this is exactly what is happening to them.


At Roncalli Central High, students are encouraged to excel both academically and athletically. However, some athletes who are trying to maintain a ninety average or better feel that sometimes teachers make this quite a difficult challenge. While some teachers take these students into consideration when planning tests or assignments others do not, they do expect all students to complete all work on time.

Ron Chambers, principal of Roncalli, recently accommodated two softball players by having his Canadian History test moved to a day when these students would be at school. Many times school sports involve long hours on the road and the tournaments take a toll physically on the students.

Student athletes Judy Symes and Jennifer Frost both agreed that when they return home on Sunday nights, they don't usually have the time or energy to study or catch up on missed work.

Symes is involved in many sports such as cross country running, softball, volleyball, and track and field. She says sometimes teachers don't take into consideration the fact that athletes usually spend their weekends, after schools and sometimes even school hours preparing or participating in sports.

"Last week I participated in softball provincials which meant that I missed two days of school plus I was gone all weekend. When I came back to school on Monday I was loaded down with work," says Symes.

"It can be stressful when teachers don't understand the pressure you're under to keep your average above a ninety and play sports at the same time."

Frost, a member of the softball, broomball, basketball, volleyball and track and field team, agreed that balancing good grades with performance on the field, court, or ice can be exhausting at times. Frost mentioned that on Monday mornings when she returns from four days of traveling and competing, it is hard to focus on work when she is practically falling asleep on her desk.

"I understand that teachers can't completely stop work because students on sports teams are missing class," Frost says, "but I also don't think it's too much to ask to put off a test or allow us an extension on an assignment. It isn't like we are skipping off and don't have a valid reason for not being there."

The discipline policy at Roncalli says that no re-writes will be given under any circumstances. This means that if an athlete misses a test for school sports they are not given a chance to write the test.

Glenn MacArthur, a teacher and coach at the school thinks that most teachers are fair when giving tests and they usually try to avoid giving a test when these students are gone.

"The policy at Roncalli was put in place to cut down on the number of students who skip or miss tests without valid reason. It was not designed to penalize the athletes at Roncalli," says MacArthur.

MacArthur also said that he understands that athletes are tired both physically and mentally when they return home to school so he personally tries to avoid giving test or piles of work prior to or immediately after a major sporting event. MacArthur also suggests that these students talk to their teachers before the tournaments because they may be likely to give student athletes the work up front or change a test to a day when they'll be present.