Student-athletes manage challenges of finals week

With the semester coming to a close, students are feeling the pressures of finals and last-minute projects. 

For student-athletes, balancing school with traveling can be especially difficult around this time. 

This year, the track and field team faces an extra challenge: this year’s OVC Outdoor Championship falls on the Thursday and Friday of finals week, meaning student-athletes who have finals scheduled for these days must either take their exams early or figure out a way to complete them on the road. 

Sophomore distance runner Liam O’Connell does not face this problem as he is redshirting this season, but he said he feels empathy for those who do. 

“It is a pretty high-stress environment,” O’Connell said. “I don’t think I could actually take a test when I’m thinking about running the next day or even later in the day.” 

While baseball’s final tournaments don’t start until finals are over, senior pitcher Ryan Byrd and redshirt sophomore second baseman Garrett Carmichael still face pressures to succeed both on the field and in the classroom.

Carmichael said he has found time management to be essential for balancing his responsibilities as both a student and an athlete.

“It’s been tough, but after five years you kind of get used to it,” Carmichael said. “Time management is really the key factor, a lot of communication with your professors and not only professors but [also] your coaches, training staff and so on.” 

According to the 2018-19 SIUE Student-Athlete Handbook, each team’s respective academic adviser for Athletics will generate a letter of class dates the athlete will miss. 

It’s then the student-athlete’s responsibility to distribute the letter to their professors and make arrangements to complete any assignments or tests missed due to competitions. 

Byrd said communicating with fellow students in addition to his professors helps him to stay caught up in class. 

“Usually, at the beginning of the year I make friends with somebody in the class who might take notes and explain to them my situation about how I’m going to have to miss class for baseball and [ask] if, while I’m in season, they’d be willing to share their notes with me,” Byrd said. 

O’Connell said scheduling his days down to the hour helped him to get through the trials of school and being in-season. 

“I’ve discovered this year, to make a calendar and a set schedule of even like specific hours of what I’m going to set aside for running [helps me] because I have all my classes and my practices set up and then I have hours set aside for doing whatever else I want,” O’Connell said. “It helps doing that because it’s pretty hectic every day.” 

The student-athlete handbook also prohibits student-athletes from asking for an incomplete grade, to take an exam late or to have late work accepted because of their participation in university-sponsored athletics. 

While students cannot ask for extensions, Professor of English Charles Berger, who has taught many student-athletes, said he may offer extensions due to competitions and other pressures athletes face. 

“The student-athletes themselves have never asked me for an extension, but, on my own, I’ve given it to them because I do recognize the pressures they’re operating under,” Berger said. 

For more information on the academic requirements for student-athletes, see the Student-Athlete Handbook at 

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