CofC Logo

6 Lessons on Balance from Athletes in The Graduate School

Posted on 30 October 2013 | 11:54 am

No one understands balance quite like a student athlete juggling practice, training, games, travel and a graduate course load. Two student athletes at The Graduate School of the College of Charleston prove balance between both passions is possible with six tips that can apply to any tug-of-war struggle.August 8, 2013 Photographer: Al Samuels


Cara Howley and Willis Hall are the first two College athletes in The Graduate School. Both are first year graduate students pursuing their master’s degrees in communication. Howley’s dedication to volleyball motivated her to attend the University of South Carolina as an undergraduate, where she double majored in human resources and international business. Hall played basketball for the College as an undergraduate business administration major, and he continues to be a crucial member of the team as a graduate student.

Willis Hall Action2Howley’s and Hall’s advice can help students splitting time between two demanding-yet-rewarding passions:


1.   Focus is key.

“Many times I’ll have to study or read or write on a bus, in a hotel room, before or after practice, and even after losses,” Hall said. “I’ve learned to channel my focus in any environment to get work done.”


2.   Don’t compromise.

Neither Howley nor Hall wanted to choose between the sports they love and the degree they’re passionate about. So neither of them did. “I want a career that lets me use both my master’s and my bachelor’s degrees, which means working hard in class,” Howley said. “But I also want to play volleyball and be a part of the team. I’m glad I didn’t choose and instead challenged myself to be great at both.”


3.   Make something you love an outlet for stress.

“Anxiety makes me a worse student and a worse player,” Howley said. “So I use volleyball as an escape, a place to focus and have fun.” Hall agrees, adding “It’s a rush every time I put on my jersey.”


4.   Stay organized.

“Balancing volleyball and school has taught me how to stay extremely organized. I keep a calendar and have a crazy color-code system for my documents,” Howley said. ”A lot of coffee also helps.”


5.   Take time to enjoy your environment.

“I love Charleston’s food!” Hall said. “There’s always a place I haven’t tried, so I never get bored. I enjoy being able to walk or bike anywhere.”


6.   Don’t write-off hobbies when you plan for the future.

“After I complete my degree I’d like to either play professionally, coach or work toward an NBA management position,” Hall said. “I love sports and it would be tough to leave. Basketball has opened doors for me my entire life and I would love to stay around the game.”

Office of Media Relations

Mike Robertson
Senior Director of Media Relations

Melissa Whetzel
Director of Media Relations