UH athletes advise on transition to college athletics

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Photo by Shanise Kaaikala

Madara Apine and Jaloni Williams tell about their experiences as University of Hawai'i, Manoa student athletes. The press conference was part of Journalism Day, an annual training conference for high school student journalists.

Dylan Godsey

By Nicole Kaauamo, Sports co-editor

Transitioning from high school to college is a difficult period in itself, but it can be even more difficult for student athletes.

Three University of Hawaiʻi athletes said that they all had to adjust to life as college athletes in Hawaiʻi at a press conference at the annual high school Journalism Day held at the UH Manoa Campus Center on Saturday, Sept. 24.

They focused their comments on the transition from high school to college life and ways to cope with it.

One of the athletes, junior Madara Apine, a Latvian jumper from the track and field team, placed eighth at the 2008 World Gymnasiade in Athens, Greece.

She said, “The first year is not the easiest, but…if you’re open minded and if you’re ready to put work in it, you can make it. It will be okay.”

Junior thrower Emma MacCorquodale from Canada received the bronze medal in the hammer throw at the WAC Outdoor Championships.

Her advice for students transitioning into college is “being prepared.” She said that is is easy knowing that your classes and training will be taken care of by the university, but it’s the little things that can trip you up, like making sure you have your medical clearance and all your transcripts turned in.

“I think it’s the smaller things that will occupy your time at first,” she said.

The student-athlete role is also extra stressful due to long roads trips for away games.

Jaloni Williams, a freshman cornerback from Los Angeles on the Warriors football team, was nominated to attend the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.

Williams said that the football team misses up to 11 days of school at a time and it becomes the athlete’s duty to stay on track. He said that the university offers a lot of help for academics in the form of academic supervisors and mentors.

“They do a really good job at helping you out, and making sure that you can balance everything, but at the same time, it’s still on you, though. You still have to go to study hall, get your study hall hours done, and make sure you get the work and are staying on top,” he said.

These athletes strive in scholarly and athletic endeavors while living a life completely different from what they grew up in.

They make it clear, though, that there is so much more to success in sports than practicing all the time. There are two keys ways to maintain a good college experience: feel good and be interested in school.

All three agree that you should be interested in your declared major and that the beach is the best place to relax the body and prepare mentally.

Just as the mainland can be difficult for a Hawaiian to get used to, these athletes said they experienced culture shock when they first moved here.

MacCorquodale said that daily conversation with parents via Skype helps to lower the stress level.

Staying balanced and calm, even when you’re dragging your luggage through the airport at 4:00 in the morning, also makes everything easier, Apine said, “Don’t freak out over one thing, ’cause then ten others might fall apart.”

That is also why she said she avoids setting goals for herself prior to meets. She said that adds extra pressure.