Owen Woltjer: Balancing Life as a Student-AthleteBy Elizabeth Boock on February 5, 2020
As a student-athlete, it can be difficult to find balance between juggling classes, work, relationships, spiritual life and a college sport. Owen Woltjer (B.A. ’21), a captain for the track and cross country teams, seems to manage it all with grace and a strong sense of capability.
Owen is an accomplished athlete. He has been named an All-American and received academic honors.
Though he has more than enough to keep him busy with his academic and athletic life, Owen is a significant contributor to Cornerstone University's campus culture. He is a leader of the student worship group Met By Love and is a truly welcoming and inclusive individual. Living in Crawford Hall, Cornerstone's on-campus apartment building, Owen has always made an effort to form community. Owen is a role model and friend to many, myself included.
The day that we met to talk about how he balances it all, Owen came, practically jogging down the stairs. He had just gotten back from a quick lunch and was getting ready to head out for a weekend track meet. I asked if he had enough time to answer a few of my questions and he affirmed, with a warm smile, that he did, as long as it didn't take too long.
This was my first reminder of the daily balance that Owen has to keep as a student-athlete.
According to Owen, it's all about balancing the margins. When I asked him what the biggest differences were between sports in high school and college, he explained that when you're a college athlete you don't just have school and then practice. You may find that you have a class around lunch and then practice in the afternoon. He shared how important it was to utilize that time.
When he has it, Owen knows the importance of maximizing his free time. It is important to plan ahead and figure out what he needs to do that day and stick to it. He would be sure to do something he deemed necessary and important at the beginning of the day, even if other things come up.
For Owen, freshman year was different because he didn't use some of the tools he uses now to stay organized. As the year went on, responsibilities increased and he continued to learn how to be organized.
"Having more on my plate, and probably a few times of suffering the consequences of not being scheduled, taught me to be scheduled," he said.
Though his dedication to making a schedule and sticking to it is admirable, he also values making time for the spontaneous things like going out with friends.
When I asked Owen what the pros and the cons of being a college athlete were, he paused.
"Honestly," he said after a few seconds, "I don't have any cons. I love every second of it."
Owen then went on to share about how much he loved his teams and his passion for running.
"The biggest pro by far is being part of something," Owen said. "I think a lot of high school kids are a part of things and they come here and all of a sudden they feel lost and lonely because they're not part of a purpose. Obviously they're part of God's kingdom and they're part of Cornerstone, but [with my team] I have sixty built-in friends automatically who care for me a lot."
As a team captain, Owen has made it a priority to love and encourage his teammates. He shared about the unique family culture of the track and cross country teams and what an honor it is to be a team captain.
If you're a prospective student looking to play college sports, Owen has this piece of additional advice: "You have to love college sports to play college sports. If you love it, then do it!"
As I talked to Owen, I could see the love he had for his sport and teams. While I know there are sacrifices he has to make, Owen would tell you that they are more than worth it.
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