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Hajim students find time to excel in sports

danielle neu

(Freshman Danielle Neu of Chemical Engineering became the first female diver in school history to earn All-American honors with her performance in the 3-meter diving event at the NCAA Div. III Swimming and Diving Championships.)

When the men's soccer team advanced to the Sweet 16 this school year with a 3-0 win over Oberlin College, Hajim School students -- Max Fan '14 of Chemical Engineering, Jeff Greblick '17 and Jarvis D'Souza '15 of Biomedical Engineering, and Shane Dobles '15 of Mechanical Engineering -- had a hand in all three goals.

In fact, four of the team's five top scorers for the year were engineering students. Indeed, 35 percent of the team's entire roster came from the Hajim School.

That sounds remarkable until you consider that 35 percent of the women's swimming team, 47 percent of the men's swimming team, 60 percent of the men's outdoor track team and 62 percent of the men's cross country team were also engineering students.

"We often joke about the number of engineers on our (track) team because it is an immense portion," said Andrew Keene, a senior in Mechanical Engineering, who also participated in cross country. "It has been that way since I got here four years ago."

"I've always just assumed that the kind of people who are attracted to track are the same kind of people who are attracted to engineering. Both require a lot of self-motivation and mental discipline."

Time management is key

Controversy surrounds some NCAA programs, especially at Div. I and II, when lax course requirements are employed to keep athletes eligible. That's not an issue for the Hajim School, where students are required to complete a rigorous curriculum, strong on math and physics, that leaves little wiggle room.

It is a tribute to the varied talents and interests of Hajim School students that so many of them – 142 this past school year – found time for varsity sports, just as many of their classmates also participated in music, theatre and a host of other activities.

And is it really any wonder that engineering students, who often study in teams, do projects in teams, and ultimately will be hired into a team, would excel in team sports as well?

The bigger question is: How do they manage it?

"I always think our athletes tend to be very disciplined students in their time management," Dean Rob Clark told members of the school's Visiting Committee recently.

shane dobles"That is the key," concurred Dobles (shown at left), who not only was the third highest scorer on the men's soccer team, but was named to the Capital One Academic All-District First Team with a 3.73 GPA. He achieved this despite playing one or two games and participating in another four or five practices each week during the 13-week season.

"Practices are usually an hour and half to two hours but take closer to three or four hours in total when you account for getting ready and showering afterwards," Dobles noted. Games take even more time considering pregame meals, warm-ups, the game itself, cool-down and then showering.

"The trick is to get ahead when you can on either homework or studying so that it doesn't all pile up. That means a lot of bus trips are spent doing readings or problem sets while we're away to keep from falling behind." It is also "best to get things out of the way whenever possible," he added. "If I have, say, an hour gap between classes, I'll just work on something in the library rather than head back to my room."

Sophomore Mary Bucklin of biomedical engineering, who made the National Field Hockey Coaches 2014 Academic Squad this year, said she couldn't imagine attending college without also playing the sport. "To me it is built-in time for fun each day, and my main source of stress relief. . . . At times the field feels like a different world."

However, the time commitment each fall is substantial: two to three hours of practice a day, and two, even three games a week. "Each night I take time to write down any assignment, class, meeting, work, and practice of the next day," Bucklin said. "By having a schedule it is easy to see where there is free time, and then I am able to plan what to do with that time so I don't waste it."

'Plan ahead and make easier weeks count'

"I've grown up with being busy with sports, so I was already accustomed to demanding schedules," adds ChemE freshman Sayaka Abe (shown below), another field hockey team member who made the academic squad. "It was definitely tough at first, trying to get used to the college workload, but I've adjusted."

Her advice:"Plan ahead and make easier weeks count."

A common thread among all of these athletes is their love for their respective sports, and the chance to be teammates with other students who share that love. For Abe, there is also the sure knowledge that her prime years for "running around hunched over the ball" as a field hockey player are probably numbered.

"With sports you never truly know how much time you have left with it."

But while that time lasts, she added, "the rewards are endless: The friends you make, the small moments of glory in games, the satisfaction when the hard work proves to have been worth it, and to be able to proudly say I play for UR Field Hockey."

By the numbers: Some interesting facts about Hajim athletes.

Hall of famers. The Hajim School is well-represented in the UR Athletic Hall of Fame

sayaka abe

Ryan Trombetta is going to Berlin. The biomedical engineering PhD student in Prof. Hani Awad’s lab took first place at the University’s first annual Falling Walls competition recently, earning him an all-expenses paid trip to the November international conference of the same name.

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