Fall sports often require early move-in times for athletes, sometimes up to three weeks before classes begin. Preseason becomes a demanding yet fun time, completely filled with activities such as two or three-a-day practices, organized social events, and time spent getting to know ones teammates.
Logically, the structure of preseason forces new first-year students to bond with each other and undergo serious training, on an athletic level different from any they experienced in high school.
Consider the recent experiences of first-year student-athletes Paul Schwingler (football) and Cullen ONeill (cross country). Schwingler, an offensive lineman from Century High School in Rochester, Minn., sees numerous differences between St. Olaf football and his high school team.
The game is faster for sure. I was the biggest guy on my team in high school, but I am definitely not here, Schwingler said. The practices are different in that we don't do as many drills and [we] focus more on plays.
Its also a big adjustment not playing both ways [offense and defense], Schwingler said. I love playing defense, but here Ive got to concentrate solely on offense.
ONeill concurs with many of Schwinglers thoughts.
College athletics are much more intense than my experience in high school, said ONeill, a native of Northfield. Coach [Bill] Thornton is a much harder coach than [my high-school coach]. I can definitely feel the extra responsibility of being a college athlete.
Even though the level of competition is at a higher level, both Schwingler and ONeill spoke positively about things about their athletic experience at St. Olaf so far.
It was nice to move in earlier and get adjusted to dorm life before classes started, Schwingler said. It is also nice to know almost 100 guys right away. It makes meeting people easier if you already know a lot of guys.
On a more scholarly note, ONeill said that being an athlete is a positive influence on his studies.
It definitely has taken up a solid chunk of my time, but it forces me to schedule my day, ONeill said. I think that I am actually more of an effective student when I'm playing a sport.