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Skylar Diggins, a sophomore All-America point guard for the nationally ranked Notre Dame women's basketball team, is blogging about her NCAA tournament experience for espnW.
Being a student-athlete is a huge challenge. It requires a lot of work, responsibility and commitment. Sometimes, it seems like there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done, especially during tournament time. I am sitting here right now in my hotel room at 10 p.m. on Friday night working on homework and thinking about the game against Oklahoma. Since I've been a Division I student-athlete at Notre Dame, I've discovered some of the keys to achieving this kind of delicate balance.
The biggest key to balancing academics and athletics is time management. As a freshman, I laid out a schedule of all of my activities in a given week. This includes homework assignments, exams, quizzes, basketball practice, lifting sessions, etc. Once I had this schedule in front of me, it relieved much of the stress I was feeling because it allowed me to clearly see the challenge before me and allowed me to attack it. In some ways, it made me even more organized than I normally am and created a road map for me to follow each day.
The biggest thing academically was strengthening the lines of communication between my professors, my tutor and me. I have weekly meetings with my professors and tutor, even if it's only for a few minutes, to keep them informed of my schedule and show them I am truly dedicated to achieving as much success in the classroom as possible. As academic professionals, they understand the demands that are placed on all college students, and it's important to me to stay in contact with them, learn from their experience and apply it to my own academic goals.
Another important aspect in maintaining this balance is having a coach who truly understands the value of education and its importance to us. Coach McGraw has always stressed that our academics are incredibly important, and she has been constantly supportive of our efforts as student-athletes and does everything possible to help us achieve the success we seek.
Now, this is an ongoing process, and I'm still learning every day that some things that work for me might not work for someone else. Everyone has to find their own path, but the one common ground for us as student-athletes is our passion to play. And as college student-athletes, we have to realize that the word "student" in "student-athlete" comes first for a reason. If we don't value our academics, the athletics mean nothing.