It’s a well-known fact St. Olaf is full of incredibly busy and varied individuals, packing their days with sports practices, music rehearsals, difficult classes and much more. On a typical day, one can witness students frantically rushing around throughout Buntrock, their Google Calendars filled to the brim. As I waited in the Cage for my interview with senior Abby Stets, I immediately realized she was no exception to the hectic Ole standard as she rushed up the stairs to meet me.
In addition to a successful and acclaimed career with St. Olaf women’s soccer, leading the team in goals during each of the previous two fall seasons, Stets has also triumphed as a premiere track runner during the winter. On Feb. 10, she became one of three MIAC runners to break a minute in the 400-meter dash this season, winning the event at the St. Thomas Showcase.
Even dating back to her time attending Northfield High School, Stets excelled in multiple sports, playing soccer, competing in gymnastics and running track. Sports are intricately tied to her very being. Naturally, when it came time to attend college, she knew she would want to continue to play sports at St. Olaf. However, such strong passion and commitment to multiple intense extracurricular and study programs inevitably led to scheduling conflicts. Competing as a two-sport athlete and commiting to the demanding nursing major, Stets is fortunate to find any semblance of free time during her day.
“I knew that I wanted to play college soccer,” Stets said. “But coming in freshman year I wasn’t planning on doing track because with nursing it gets really hard. But then, I found that when I was done with soccer and wasn’t in a sport for a month, it was really hard to manage my time because I had almost too much time on my hands. I really missed being on a [schedule], and going to something scheduled every day.”
St. Olaf soccer concludes its schedule after the conference playoffs in early November. Per her mother’s request, Stets immediately rests for two weeks between the final whistle of the soccer season and the beginning of her track competition throughout the winter. Once races eventually begin, Stets’ weekends become jam-packed with meets which last full days and take up precious time that would formerly be spent doing homework.
“Where other people have time to do homework on Saturdays and do other things, almost all of my Saturdays in the spring, I have meets,” Stets said. “I can’t do homework at meets, so that’s hard.”
Being a nursing major adds an entirely new set of scheduling problems, especially with hectic inclusion of a full track season. As a senior in the nursing department, Stets is required to have preceptor shifts, which are essentially nursing internships.
“You have to do 120 hours plus your four nursing classes, and with track it’s been pretty hard,” Stets said. “Nursing shifts aren’t like 9-5 shifts, they’re night shifts, or weekend shifts. On Sunday, I’m doing one from 3-11 and it’s just not conducive to a student-athlete lifestyle.”
Because of this difficult combination of sports and nursing, Stets explained her life is broken up into three categories: class, preceptor shifts and sports. She has gradually acclimated to the busy schedule of a two-sport athlete, and has found a system for coping with the stress that naturally comes alongside her involved lifestyle.
“I just focus on the week ahead of me,” Stets said. “If I think about the whole semester, or even a month out, I’m not able to mentally do that. I just take it week by week.”
She has discovered that prioritizing organization is key, and has started to use Google Calendar, which she mentioned has helped immensely with remembering any extra meetings or activities that could otherwise slip through the cracks during such a busy schedule.
Despite the craziness and occasional exhaustion, Stets thoroughly enjoys her sports enough to commit to this hectic lifestyle. They’ve become such a vital aspect of her everyday routine that the quickly approaching reality of graduating and entering the workforce brings a melancholy set of difficulties.
“The first couple years will be rough, since I won’t have a sport anymore,” Stets said. “It’s going to be really interesting being done with sports.”
Although she admits that she’ll miss being a part of sports after moving on from St. Olaf, Stets remains optimistic about discovering new ways to be involved in the athletics that have made such a dramatic impact not merely on her schedule, but on her very identity.