Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW softball balances academics with travel

Due to the cold climate of Wisconsin, the UW softball team plays five tournaments and four road series before its first home game. As a result, homework and studying for exams are difficult tasks for the players.[/media-credit]

We’ve all heard it before.

How your roommate has a crazy workload this upcoming week, and the world may end before it is all done.

Next time someone around you complains about the workload they have in a given week, politely remind them about the Wisconsin softball team.


The team doesn’t play its first home game until April 7, and will have played in five tournaments and four road series in eight different states before finally settling down.

With the hectic travel schedule, maintaining consistent studies and preparation for exams prove to be quite difficult.

Freshman utility player Whitney Massey agrees.

“Getting your studying done, you have to take the opportunities [given],” Massey said. “When you’re sitting in your hotel room, you can’t just sit there and watch television, you should probably break open a book.”

Members of the softball team are hard-pressed to find time to devote to their studies. The team travels by bus and plane before arriving at the tournament site to compete. During the weekend, very little free time is available, and even simple luxuries such as sleeping are cherished.

“Most of us try to do our work on the plane or on the bus ride to and from the airport, that’s pretty much all we can do,” senior pitcher Letty Olivarez said. “Sometimes we have to stay up late that night if we have an assignment to turn in, [but] usually it’s a lot of cramming in before we leave.”

Olivarez, in addition to pitching, doubles during the week as a legal studies and a sociology major, and she recognizes the adjustment period needed as a freshman.

“I remember when I was a freshman, it was pretty tough,” she said. “It’s a lot to even get up every morning and make it through the whole day without getting tired… but I think you do adjust to it.”

Due to the high volume of freshmen on the team this year, making the adjustment has been especially challenging yet also entertaining for head coach Chandelle Schulte and her staff to uncover.

“We have so many freshmen this year, so them learning how to study on the road I think was really interesting the first two weeks,” Schulte said. “They didn’t get that when you’re in the airport you have to study; when you’re in the hotel room, you can’t sleep — you have to study”

However, despite all the challenges and obstacles for the team, it earned its highest team GPA of all time last semester.

The coaching staff places a tremendous amount of pressure on the girls to succeed in the classroom and to not let their teammates down by becoming academically ineligible.

With the most stringent academic standards in the Big Ten, Wisconsin requires its student-athletes to maintain a 2.50 GPA or face strict penalty.

If a student-athlete fails to sustain the 2.50, he or she cannot miss more than six school days for any reason, including for a tournament or road series.

Schulte said that several starters did not travel for the first tournament because they did not have the necessary 2.50 last semester.

“It becomes tantamount that they understand what they have to do in the classroom because it would hurt us as a team when we cant all be out there,” Schulte said. “We had several starters not there because they had to [sit out].”

Schulte and her assistant coaches try to diagnose any academic deficiencies before they become too big of a problem by assigning assistant coaches as academic tutors.

The tutors are mandatory for all freshmen and any player who received a 2.50 or lower the semester before.

While the tutors do not travel with the team, as do many with NCAA basketball teams during the tournament, they are available throughout the week.

“We have them every day of the week before we leave,” said Olivarez.

In softball, the girls also are required to participate in set study hours on the plane or in the hotel rooms. Most of the weekends there are organized study hours on the plane and in the hotel rooms once they arrive at their destination.

Although many things can be accomplished during study hours and dull moments throughout the weekend, certain things cannot.

The girls approach their professors at the beginning of every semester with their traveling schedule to resolve any sort of scheduling conflict that may arise. The biggest issue is one any student can relate to: Midterm exams.

“We have to talk to the professors beforehand. We gave them our travel letters so it would work out any conflicts we have,” said Massey. “We have the option of taking [exams] before or after; usually professors are pretty easy to schedule with.”

As many know, however, not all professors are easy to compromise with, and certain ones have been harder to deal with than others.

“There are some professors that say there are no exceptions, but for the most part they usually give you some options to either take it a week later or a week earlier,” added Olivarez. “I feel like I’ve gotten pretty lucky.”

Like everything else in college sports, recruiting plays a large role in the type of player the coaching staff covets. Schulte admits she recruits players she feels can succeed in the type of academic climate necessary here at Wisconsin.

“We’re looking for those kinds of student-athletes from the beginning,” Schulte said. “That’s been a learning curve for the coaching staff, what it takes to succeed here.”

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