As the school year approaches, students’ responsibilities begin to add up. As Joe Carlin III and Chelsey Christensen know all too well, balance during the school year takes a fair amount of dedication, a way to prioritize, and a lot of flexibility.
Both Joe and Chelsey started their athletic careers at a young age – their parents enrolling them into Mom and Tot classes through program centers for coordination and activity purposes. And, as time went on, their love for gymnastics…stuck. In the fall, Joe will be heading to University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Chelsey will be going to the University of Missouri – both competing in the sport they adore.
Gymnastics provides more variation than a lot of sports, according to Joe. “Every single day you’re doing something different. There are six events, and each day I can still do something new.”
Of course with new skills come trials. “Learning something new can be pretty frustrating, just because you have to do it over again,” explains Chelsey. “Once you finally get a challenging skill, the feeling of success is so worth it.”
On top of the challenges athletes face in their sport, add the title of student in front of athlete and more hurdles appear.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), over 55 percent of all high school students play a sport. Between friends, family, classes, and homework – then practices and competitions – the middle ground can be a difficult balance to find. For Joe and Chelsey, time management and support is what they accredit their success to.
During the school year a typical day was filled with extra curricular activities, classes, running home to grab something to eat then on their way to the gym, then wrapping up their evening with homework.
“It’s difficult to fit it all in,” says Chelsey. Joe agrees – it all comes down to the choices and priorities students make along the way.
“Everything’s a priority, but you have to choose which is greater in that moment,” explains Joe. “Do I have a lot of homework? If so, I may need to leave practice a little earlier.”
Priorities shift and parents begin to realize the importance of support and flexibility, too. Both Chelsey’s mom, Rochelle Christensen, and Joe’s mom, Michele Carlin, believe parents should guide and lay the groundwork for their student athlete if they have the drive to do something.
“Although it can be hard,” says Rochelle, “you just have to make sure they are living a healthy lifestyle while helping them succeed.”
“Don’t dread anything; enjoy, support, and find a love of the sport like they do,” says Michele.
Although the responsibilities may add up and tower over your student athlete, the skills they learn and the support they receive along the way makes finding their individual balance a little easier.
By Jenna Carda