University started with basketball. I showed up as an 18-year-old focused on spending all my time in the gym and the rest on the minimal amount of homework I planned to do. I suppose it was a mixture of finally being on my own, feeling indestructible in my athletic abilities, and the overall drive of a dream coming true, that fed my focus. Schoolwork was what I had to do to play ball. I was required to maintain a 2.0 GPA and that’s all I hoped for.
And for a little while, it was fantastic! But as with any good thing, eventually it had to come to an end. Reality kicked in when I got my first semester midterms back. I had just barely cleared the GPA requirement. I wasn’t going to be able to keep this level of effort up if I wanted to succeed in academics too. But did I even want success in my academics? Or was I just here for basketball?
This is a scary question given that the cost of living, tuition, and having a good time all costs around $6,500 a semester. So, was I going to be willing to pay that much money just to play ball? Or would my focus have to change? The answer was simple. Yes, I wanted to play ball that much.
Thank God for the support of my friends and family. Without it, my view of school and ball would never have changed.
I was able to finish my first year in the clear, and entered my second year with a new attitude. My focus hadn’t changed; basketball still came first. But now schoolwork was a very close second, and I was determined to succeed in both.
During my second year, I began to learn how to balance school with ball. And as I entered my third, I considered myself a pro. My mind-set was this: homework will get done and will always get done, without question. Basketball – as long as I work hard at it – will continue to give me an escape from the busyness of academic madness.
As I found my stride, I found I was worrying less on the whole. On top of completing my schoolwork by the deadlines and showing up to all my practices for ball, there was even time for life! I hit up the city, met new friends, and succeeded in living the classic university life.
Thank goodness CMU was forgiving when it came to the learning process of succeeding in education after high school.
Matt Warkentin is a fourth year English major at CMU.