School, Sports, and Stereotypes: UCSB Women’s Basketball Weighs In

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Madison Hallam

Student athletes are able to live two separate lives.

To an outsider, it might seem exciting, but there’s a catch — their performance in one directly affects the other, and it can be exhausting. The players on UCSB’s Women’s Basketball team revealed just how much time and energy is required to make their busy schedules work and to be able to perform at their best both on the court and in the classroom.

Coming into college, students already have enough on their plates between classes, extracurriculars, and trying to adjust to living away from home. And as for student athletes, they are being asked to not only excel in their classes but also to excel in their sport simultaneously.

Mira Shulman is a first year student on the women’s basketball team who plans to pursue a degree in economics. She addressed the stereotype that student athletes would not have gotten into a school like UCSB without their sports recruitment. 

“It’s so rare for student athletes to declare challenging majors like the ones in the STEM field,” Shulman said. “Most of them choose easy social science majors.”

Shulman emphasized the importance of student athletes having their priorities straight. She stated that she is “more focused on school” but has noticed that a lot of her teammates are “definitely more focused on basketball.”

She also is realistic when it comes to her life post-college.

“I know that basketball is not what I’m going to be doing after college, so I see the bigger picture of what’s more important,” Shulman said, who is a guard and a forward. “If basketball starts impeding on my schoolwork then I would drop basketball before I would start slacking in my classes.”

Being on a varsity sports team is a much bigger commitment than just going to practices and games. Shulman gave some insight on how crazy her schedule can get. “We have weights three times a week and other events that we have to go to that living scholars and donors to the program put on for us.”

With the recently-started women’s basketball season, travelling is another important factor that has started to impact the players’ lives, along with academic work as fall quarter comes to a close.

According to Cece Quintino, a first year and point guard, “Travelling is difficult because we don’t get back until late at night, then have to be up early for classes, then practice and weights immediately after.”

The busy schedule isn’t the only thing troubling many athletes. For many students, a difficult major can either make or break their experience at university.

It is a common thought that student athletes decide their majors based upon course load, allowing them to devote more time and energy to their sports. However, for some athletes on UCSB’s women’s basketball team, this is not the case.

Quintino, for one, is currently undeclared but is considering a major in psychology, which now nets a bachelor of science degree.

“I’ve heard the course load here [at UCSB] for psych is pretty difficult, but I’ve always wanted to be a psychologist so I’m gonna go for it,” Quintino said.

For athletes like Quintino, the later start in choosing a major is not at the prompting of coaches or advisers to get a feel of what is easiest, but rather to “get used to the quarter system.”

As for first year student Sarah Bates, also a guard on the basketball team, she chose her major similar to how Quintino did. Bates, who wants to be a sports broadcaster, is currently undeclared but plans to major in communication. “I chose my major based off of my interests and also because of how easy it is.”

Comm seems to fit the easiest with what I want to do and it relates the most,” she added.

Bates also plans to continue basketball after her college career, so it’s extremely important for her to remain eligible in academics to allow her to play for the next four years.

Being constantly drained of energy is common for athletes like these. Having motivation is key to success as a student athlete. Quintino made it clear how much of a balancing act sports and school can be.

“They impact each other because if you’re not motivated in the classroom you’ll lose eligibility and you can’t play,” Quintino said.

She added that “you kind of have to stay motivated — you don’t have the option not to.”

Finding motivation to push through it all is hard for some, but for athletes like Bates the academic scholarship is something that can at least help keep her focused on the sport. “We’re going to one of the top universities in the country and we have everything paid for,” she said. “If I had to pay and put myself through all of this I don’t know if I would be able to do it.”

The scholarships players receive may well be playing a decisive role, but it’s obvious that their love of basketball is the primary driving force behind their decision to enter as student athletes.

“As cheesy as it sounds, it’s all for the love of the game,” Bates chuckled.