Inside the busy lives of student athletes
Danielle Doiron, Sports & Lifestyle Editor
Jessica Lister sits on the soccer field sidelines behind the Notre Dame Campus, lacing her cleats. Even with her hectic schedule, she’s one of the first to arrive for training camp.
The 23-year-old plays for the Red River College Rebels women’s soccer and futsal teams and the Tri-S United club team. She trains at least five days every week. She works for the provincial government and organizes and scorekeeps for Rebels basketball and volleyball games. She spent over 200 hours last year as a volunteer trainer for a local ringette team.
And this year, she’s once again a full-time student.
After completing a kinesiology degree at the University of Winnipeg, Lister is now working on her after-degree in education and hopes to become a high school physical education or business technology teacher.
In the meantime, she’s living out another dream – playing soccer.
“I loved it right off the hop,” said Lister, who started playing at four-years-old. “It just stuck on, and it was something that was part of my life.”
And so was keeping busy.
“Soccer wasn’t the only sport I played,” Lister said. “I also did Highland dancing, and I played competitive volleyball. On top of that, I had to keep my academics up. It was just always a part of my life, having a bunch of things going on at once and having to organize my schedule really well.”
Still, Lister said it’s sometimes difficult to juggle school, work and sports.
“I think the hardest part is finding it within yourself to keep going,” she said. “There’s some mornings where I wake up, and I just want to stay in bed a little longer, especially in the winter when I just want to stay under the warm blankets . . . but it’s really worth it at the end of the day.”
Ripping off those blankets has given Lister a sense of accomplishment, especially among her teammates.
“Even just playing last year, I saw a lot of improvement in myself and in my playing,”she said. “A lot of the girls are in pretty hectic programs, so we’re all in the same boat. That’s why we support each other a lot. We know everyone’s going through the same thing right now. We’re a team.”
Kyle Anderson knows he won’t be a professional athlete forever. A few years ago, the Winnipeg Goldeyes’ starting pitcher returned to school and completed his degree at California Polytechnic State University. This time, he took classes in the off-season, something he said eased the stress of being a student-athlete.
“Freshman year, you’re up at 6 a.m. going to weights, going to class. Then you’ve got to go to practice after and come home and do homework,” he said. “But when you come back in the off-season, you go to class, and once you’re done, you’re done.
“If I didn’t play baseball, I’m sure my grades would’ve been a lot better, but you have to kind of find that balance. You’ve got to stay up late, you’ve got to do your homework, prepare for those exams, because if you don’t, you’re not eligible, there’s no spot for you on the team. “
But, as he said, “a lot of people get through it,” including fellow Goldeye Ryan Babineau.
The 28-year-old catcher has gone back to school every fall for the past three years and needs one more class to finish his history degree. Like Anderson, Babineau initially struggled to balance school and sport, but said he found his rhythm.
“It’s just timing. It’s just like anything in life,” he said. “You have to commit yourself and dedicate yourself to doing anything and doing it to the best of your ability. It’s just understanding time management and preparing yourself to get it done. That’s what this life is about.”