FULLERTON – With their biggest games of the season around the corner, student athletes at Cal State Fullerton are preparing for a different test: finals.
“I mean it’s definitely hard,” said senior baseball player Hunter Cullen. “But having a good routine helps.”
Some students’ routines for their last exams of the semester include lonely, late-night study sessions or guzzling coffee, but many CSUF student-athletes look to their team for support.
Sahid Valenzuela, Titans baseball second baseman and freshman criminal justice major, said he credits his teammate for the guidance and motivation necessary to focus on his grades.
“They try to give me tips and when we’re on the road,” Valenzuela said. “They just tell me to make sure that I’m talking to my teachers and communicating with them if we miss class because we’re on the road.”
Although athletes can’t completely shrug off the lingering whisper of finals, Valenzuela said the biggest key to his success on the field and in the classroom is separating the two.
“I stress out about school, but not on the field,” Valenzuela said. “When I’m on the field, I try not to think about school work.”
It’s something that’s easier for some athletes than others.
“I think last year was definitely challenging for myself because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Fullerton softball senior right fielder Delynn Rippy. “Going into postseason, I was kind of like ‘Oh yes, I’m going to the postseason’ but then at the same time, I’m like, ‘I still got to get through finals.’ It’s a lot of stress going through that. You kind of just have to focus on getting done with school first, and then softball will be there.”
Athletes also experience finals differently from the rest of students. Unlike other students, who have a set schedule of days and times for exams, student-athletes must speak with their professors to reschedule tests, and some even have to rush from practice to have them proctored on the road.
That isn’t the case for all student-athletes, however. For senior softball player Lexi Gonzalez, finals are a breeze.
“For me, it’s kind of never been a stressful time and I just think a lot of that has to do with my major. I’m a communications, broadcast journalism major so often times my final is writing a paper or making a video and editing it, versus others who have tests like my teammates,” Gonzalez said.
Although Gonzalez gets to take it a little easier during this time of the year, she uses her extra time and energy to try and pump up her team by being loud and energetic, or just bringing them their favorite Starbucks drink.
“This is the most stressful time of the year for them. Some of them go on like two hours of sleep throughout the whole week and so I kind of live the stress through them,” Gonzalez said. “Just to lighten the load throughout the day is something that I’m going to focus on and suggest others do as well for each other. Just see whoever is stressing the most and pick them up. Because we’re gonna need everyone, all 26 of us, for regionals.”
Harrison Faigen, Mariana Vera and Bryant Freese contributed to this report.