What Athletics Teaches You

April 29, 2019 by  
Filed under Canadian Sport Features

Colin on football field

What football and UW have Dunn for me

Colin Dunn (BA ’17) translates lessons he learned as a Warriors football player into his academic and professional career. By Colin Dunn (BA ’17)Alumnus

My time at UWaterloo was a fun but very busy one.

I was planning on attending a different school for business, but once UWaterloo offered me the chance to play football for the next five years, I couldn’t say no to that!

Colin Dunn

It was like a match made in heaven when I found out about the Recreation and Sports Business program as well. What more could a student-athlete want from his degree and his athletic life? I thought there would be nothing better than going to school and playing football. However, I was unaware of the challenges that come with balancing sports and school as a student-athlete, and how many lessons the next five years would teach me and ultimately translate into my career.

On the outside looking in, being a student-athlete seems rather glamorous. You get to play a sport you love, representing your school on a large stage, travelling most weekends and everything that comes with being an athlete at the university level. But what you don’t see and what I struggled with is the battle with time management. Coming into first year, I had no clue how to manage my time properly. On top of the countless hours on the practice field, in the weight room and the film study room, I had the demand of being a student at one of the top universities in Canada.

It’s no secret that during my five years with the team (2012-2017), we didn’t see that much success on the field. But the success I found off of the field with the countless lessons I learned, that experience was priceless. Many skills, such as time management and wellness balance, have really helped me in the beginning stages of my career. Being a student-athlete at one of the top schools in the country provided me with an opportunity to learn from my mistakes and build on my skills.

Time management was a crucial skill I had to perfect right away. It was evident after my first semester, when my average was 62, that I had to really understand how to manage everything that was being thrown at me. For the next four years, I managed almost every aspect of my life in and out of school. I made sure I was scheduling every assignment, reading, workout, meals, practice, down time with friends, etc. Of course I would break away from the set schedule sometimes, but the important part is that once I wrote them down, I understood where I needed to allocate more of my time and prioritize accordingly. I found I actually was able to have more free time because I was so efficient in getting things done ahead of time and not panicking!

Colin in football helmet

Speaking of free time, being an athlete and a recreation student, wellness was a huge part of my education. Yet another lesson I have carried forward into my career after UWaterloo. Yes, it is very important to work hard and further your career, but I learned that nothing is more important than your own wellness. Having a work-life balance should be one of the most important aspects of your life. Sometimes football was that balance that was needed. I needed those times where I took time for myself and enjoyed something else I loved.

Those two lessons, and countless more, helped me achieve Academic All-Canadian status in my last two semesters of school (status given to athletes who achieve an 80% or higher average). This was one of my many goals during university, and I am proud to say that I achieved this at one of the top universities in Canada.

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