Can my student-athlete succeed at a University?

Trinity University volleyball players

by Kay Hazelwood –

I am frequently asked by parents how their student-athlete will manage athletics and academics at Trinity University. I answer that question by drawing on my own daughters’ experiences and by visiting with my favorite alumni and assistant coaches. Here is a summary of their answers to some frequently asked questions.

Will my student-athlete be able to keep up with coursework during the athletic season? How did Trinity provide encouragement and coordination with faculty members?

Being a student-athlete at Trinity University is certainly a challenge. Trinity is a school with both top-notch academics and athletics so the key to being successful as a student-athlete is finding the right balance between academics, athletics, and social activities. If your student-athlete is committed to both studies and athletics, he or she will most likely need to make other sacrifices (i.e. less TV, fewer parties, etc.), but handling coursework is definitely manageable. Most student-athletes find that they make better grades during their season compared to other semesters because they are more focused overall.

Hazelwood volleyball family at Trinity University
The Hazelwood family includes mom, Kay, center, Trinity class of '82, with daughters who played volleyball at Trinity: Audrey '15, Maddie, '13, and Aly '09' and daughter Marion, a sophomore volleyball player at Oklahoma.
One student-athlete I spoke to admitted that playing two sports while double majoring in physics and engineering definitely taxed his time, but he agreed that all of his coaches and professors were accommodating of the demands of a student athlete. He never had any issue with missing practice for a class or lab. All of his professors were very encouraging in the pursuit of athletic excellence, and his physics professors actually got a big kick out of having a football player as a student. My football player’s experience is not unique; when interviewing an accounting major and track and field athlete he agreed that most Trinity professors (99 %) support student-athletes and are happy to work with them so they don't fall behind and can be successful. Rarely should your student-athlete encounter a situation where a test or assignment cannot be reasonably rescheduled. The key is communicating early and often with their professors about their game and travel schedules.

The coaches are also extremely dedicated to keeping up with all of their players' academic standing and grades to ensure that their players are not struggling, and if they are, to find ways to help. Many of the assistant coaches are Trinity alumni who certainly know how academically strenuous many professors and courses can be. The coaches do a great job of facilitating the upperclassmen as mentors for the underclassmen (academically and athletically), helping with scheduling classes and managing time/assignments. Upperclassmen are great role models, both on the court and in the classroom, setting the standard for academics as a priority at all times during season.

Will the travel to games be a distraction?

Travel can be a distraction because student-athletes are a close knit group and they want to enjoy the time away from campus exploring new places with this great group of friends. But, for many student- athletes travel forces them to study! My track star and accounting major found that traveling to games gave him extra time for studying (flights, bus rides, time in between games). At a recent track meet, for example, almost all of the athletes brought their study materials to review between events. Coaches also play a big role here, requiring study hours or down time while away. The coaches are not babysitters and they can't force athletes to study, but they do a good job of pushing them in the right direction to eventually establish those study skills as a natural part of the season.

Could the athletic season actually function as a time management tool?

Absolutely. Without a doubt, being a student-athlete puts stress on one's time. When in season, a significant part of an athlete’s time is spent around their sport (practice, games, travel, and conditioning). Because of this, they will quickly learn to prioritize their other activities and focus their energy on the most important tasks. My football player dealt with the added stress with determination and a sense of pride that comes with being a Trinity Tiger. He said that after six years in the real world he has yet to have a boss as demanding as his coach, but it sure was a lot of fun!

About Kay

Kay Hazelwood, chair of the Trinity Parent Leadership Council, sent three daughters to Trinity, and they all played volleyball. The only daughter who didn’t come to Trinity to play volleyball grew up coming to campus to see her older sisters play.


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