A Balancing Act

Where does self-care fit into the lives of Syracuse University athletes?

by CHRISTINA HOWIE ★ NOV. 29, 2018

Cheers echo throughout SU’s Carrier Dome as sneakers squeak against the court. Carleigh Lutz looks out into the sea of orange- a typical sight for the 19-year-old dancer on gameday.  With the blow of a whistle, the basketball game begins and the SU Dance Team takes its position in front of thousands of fans. Smiling at the crowd, Lutz and the team move together in sync. Although the performance looks effortless, it took hours of practice and behind-the-scenes work to perfect.

 Carleigh Lutz

Carleigh Lutz

Lutz, a sophomore environmental engineering major, is no stranger to hard work. Being a student athlete is a balancing act. In addition to school, homework and socializing, athletes need to make time for practice, workouts and game days. This leaves little time to dedicate toward self-care -- something that is incredibly important for student athletes.  

“Balancing class, homework, practices/workouts, games, and a social life is definitely challenging at times, but learning to manage my time and seek help in my classes when I need it makes it easier,”  Lutz said. “Since my major is environmental engineering, the course load can definitely be difficult and the hardest part would be staying on top of it and not falling behind.”

A typical day for Lutz starts with class at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 2:00 p.m. giving her some free time to catch on work before heading to practice and workouts later in the evening. On top of performing at gamedays, Lutz allots about seven hours a week to dance. And on game-free weekends, Lutz is still expected to attend additional practices.

“It's important to take some ‘me time’ to relax, clear your mind, or simply just reward yourself for working so hard,” Lutz said.  “I normally practice self care mental nights before game days.”

It’s Friday night, the night before a basketball game. Lutz and her roommates are lounging in their dorm common room and trying to decide what movie they are going to watch tonight.  Lutz is sitting on the couch, unwrapping a Glamglow Bubblesheet Face Mask. As she places it on her face, she instantly feels a cool sensation run through her skin and soothing away the stresses from the week.  

“I used to do meditation with my dance team in high school which I really enjoyed, but it’s hard to match everyone’s schedule at college between classes and practices,” Lutz said. “We have a team dinner on Friday though which is something that we try to do together to bond, relax and have fun!”

Similar to Lutz, Lindsay Eastwood, a defenseman for the Syracuse University Women’s Ice Hockey Team has to balance school and sports while also maintaining her self-care routine.   The hockey team holds practice twice a week from 2:45 until 4:15. When the she is not practicing on the ice, Eastwood is at the off-ice workouts also held twice a week.

 Lindsay Eastwood

Lindsay Eastwood

“My first two years as an underclassman, it took some adjusting and trying to figure out how to balance it all,” Eastwood said. “I think personal self-care routines are extremely important for student athletes. It is so easy to just get caught constantly going through the same motions and forgetting to take care of yourself. Not taking care of yourself will just get you run-down and sick.”

In her free time, Eastwood takes time to de-stress by watching Netflix, getting her nails done or adding in some extra workouts for herself. The team participates in weekly yoga to help them unwind and relax. Yoga, which combines physical poses and movements, controlled breathing, and meditation, is a great way to unwind and regroup during high stress times.

“It’s so nice because there is no pressure in yoga. It is literally just to help you and there is no judgement on your performance. I think I can speak for everyone saying we leave feeling refreshed,” she said.

The final buzzer sounds and Eastwood follows her teammates as they skate off the ice after another successful game, the blades cutting into the ice one by one. As she exits the glass doors of the ice rink, she's already planning her nightly routine to unwind before heading back to the ice the next morning.