GREENSBORO-The talented incoming freshman class for the North Carolina A&T swimming team arrived on campus for their New Student Orientation, determined to start their collegiate careers as they plan on finishing it-together.
Together they've sat through lectures about academics and student life, enjoyed ice breakers like watching a singing contest and learning Aggie cheers, and chose meal plans and classes. And it's as a group that they will make the adjustment to the demands of being an A&T student-athlete.
Not only do all A&T students have to adjust to a rigorous academic courseload, but they have to learn and develop time management skills to balance the multiple demands of classes, homework and social life. Add on top of that the rigors of practices, strength & conditioning work and Division I competition, and Aggie freshmen student-athletes face a pretty dramatic lifestyle change.
Chatting in Hendrix's office at Corbett Sports Center, the freshmen laughed and joked over shared experiences with Orientation, and discussed their anticipations for the 2012-13 season as they went over paperwork.
Class registration and scheduling represented not only the largest concern, but also the most eagerly anticipated part of Orientation. With so much to balance in the upcoming 2012-13 year, the freshmen were anxious to set a schedule.
"I want to see how well my school schedule will play out with practice, like how and what my day and week will look like," said Victoria Orr, who comes to A&T from Harding University High School in Charlotte, N.C.
Amane Hand-Solomon, from Dover, Del., and Orr both agreed that fitting everything into a schedule, with school work and swimming, was their largest concern.
While they have become accustomed to time management as high school and or club athletes, it will be different at A&T since their schedule will be more fluid than what they've experienced for the last 13 years--remaining in one school building for seven straight hours of classes.
Knowing whether to work practice around class or class around practice was another key question the freshmen had as they chatted with Hendrix in Hendrix's office before finishing up the second day of Orientation, which ended with class registration.
"Morning practices and scheduling...We're still not sure when to schedule our classes," said Niya Ross, who had a strong high school career at Annapolis High School in Maryland.
Hendrix explained and emphasized that academics come first. After all, they are student-athletes.
"The biggest thing is get the classes that you need to get. [Assistant Coach Gia Wright] and I will work around all of that," Hendrix said. "There's no class, unless you're in ROTC, which begins at 5:15 in the morning... The biggest thing is, if you need a class at 3 p.m.; take the class at 3 p.m."
Even with that assurance that the coaches will work around their academic demands, the new Aggies still had questions. When will we all be together? We might be practicing at different times? What if there's only one person at practice?
"I would love to say we're all done at 3 p.m., we'll get in at 3 p.m. But some people may be done at 3 p.m., some people may not," Hendrix said. "If it happens, it's great."
With student-athletes holding different class schedules, practices will be offered at different times. Not everyone will be able to practice together-a major change from high school or club practices.
"I know that's very different than what you're used to but you have to understand, everybody's major will be different," Hendrix said. "And then you also have your individual practices. If you have an individual with me and Gia for 45 minutes, that's like a 2-hour practice. It's just me and you and a camera, and just us. It goes by a lot quicker."
No matter how their final course schedule for the 2012 Fall Semester plays out, each member of the 2012 swimming class can be assured of one thing-they will be able to handle the adjustment to college life, with the support of each other. Hendrix has every confidence in her newest team members.
"It's a good, core group," Hendrix said of her class. "They're students of the sport. They're coming in with depth with years of swimming, academically focused, and competitively self-driven. I'm ecstatic, I'm very excited."