Interview with a Student Athlete Audrey Hitchens

Written by on October 8, 2023

Montclair, NJ

Audrey Hitchens is a sophomore at Montclair State University, she is on the Swim & Dive team as a diver. As I spoke to her I came to understand that diving and athletics are an intrinsic part of her life. She has been diving for five years and has been diving for MSU since her freshman year. However, she is also a Graphic Design major and loves art. I was curious as to how she can balance these two components of her life successfully, as many student-athletes must.

Montclair is a D3 school which generally means that there is as much emphasis put on schoolwork as there is on athletics. Audrey described her typical day as starting out with practice from 8:30 to 10:30 and then having classes and time to do work the rest of the day. She told me she often finds herself doing assignments right before or after practices, sometimes right in the locker room. This is because she is “already in the work mindset” and this allows her to keep up on her academics. I found this to be really interesting and asked what virtues from diving carry over into other parts of her life, like the work mindset. She responded with, “Balancing becomes easy because all the healthy things you’re supposed to be doing you have to do for a sport: eating, sleeping, working out.” Hitchens also attributes her work ethic and vehement pursuit of academics to life skills she learned from her years as an athlete. 

According to Hitchens, D3 athletics are still serious and the teams put in a lot of effort and hours of training but there is the added benefit of it not being overwhelmingly burdensome or stressful. This is, in part, due to policies put in place by the university to make sure student-athletes have the tools they need to balance their schedules. For example, freshmen who participate in a sport have required study hours each week which they must complete at Panzer. The Panzer facility also contains study rooms so athletes need not go far to find a quiet place to get work done. Athletes also get priority scheduling, which is extremely important in the athletic-academic balance. Priority scheduling means that they can make their schedules first and get classes that don’t conflict with practice and meets/games. 

Student-athletes, like Audrey Hitchens, find themselves at a unique crossroads when balancing their schedules and lives. It is not an easy task to find an equilibrium, especially when the athletics require lots of focus and dedication but academic endeavors can also be demanding and time-consuming. However, Hitchens expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to be an MSU diver, despite the challenges she faces. Student-athletes can find success in this system by using skills from both hemispheres of their lives, such as dedication and endurance from sports or organization and planning from their classes. Overall, the experience can be very rewarding and benefit student-athletes for the rest of their lives.