Admission: Not Impossible

What It’s Like to Be a Walk-On

January 30th, 2014 zwielgus

NiWhalen_TNck Whalen, HC ’15, is a tour guide & a member of the Holy Cross men’s rowing team.

 

When I was in high school, I didn’t really think that I would be participating in varsity athletics at a collegiate level. I was a fairly good athlete, but there was hardly a queue of Division I head coaches scrambling to give me an athletic scholarship. In fact, precisely zero collegiate coaches expressed any interest in having me row for them. Despite that, I am about to enter my third spring racing season on the men’s varsity rowing team.

As a walk-on, I have no reason to be an athlete other than for my own enjoyment. However, being a student-athlete at Holy Cross is an experience that I’ve found to be immensely rewarding so far. Beyond the thrill of competition, participating in varsity sports has provided me with a great support network of friends and teammates, the impetus to wake up early and be productive, and not to mention an excellent physical fitness regiment! Of course, those benefits also apply to club and intramural sports as well (although, you’re slightly less likely to have a 6 a.m. weightlifting session for intramural wiffleball). Some club sports even have pre-season training trips!

One thing that I would emphasize about being a student-athlete at Holy Cross though is that the term “student-athlete” begins with “student.” Here, you really are a student first. We take great pride in the athletic achievements of our peers here on the hill, but the discipline needed to be a successful athlete at a Division I level is expected to be demonstrated the classroom, too. You won’t be on your own, though: Holy Cross offers a wide array of resources to help all students in their academic pursuits. Office hours with professors, major-specific peer-tutoring workshops with upperclassmen, or even just a study group with friends are examples of all the opportunities available to Holy Cross students as they strive to make the most of their classes.

While being a student-athlete is certainly a huge commitment in terms of both time and energy, it does not have to be at the expense of other activities or academic success. Who knows – in a few years, I might be reading about how led your team to the Patriot League title and also won a Fulbright the same semester!

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