Student-Athlete Perspective on Life in the Leavey School of Business
Courtney Ogren (’20) is still trying to figure out what she is going to do after graduation. While she’s lived around the Bay Area her entire life, her post-graduate plans could take her anywhere, including places such as Austin, Texas or Australia.
However, while other students may begin to panic about full-time jobs, Courtney is currently enjoying the short break from her “full-time job” on the Santa Clara Women’s Soccer team.
Courtney, a senior marketing major from San Carlos, CA, has spent the last four years as Santa Clara’s goalkeeper – helping protect the net for one of the country’s best teams and holding opponents to just over a goal per game.
Yet when asked what regular students wouldn’t know about being a college athlete, her response was simple: the time commitment.
“I don’t think people realize how much time we put to soccer every week. Honestly if I counted it up it was probably like 40 hours a week with traveling and everything. To me, it feels like it equated to a full-time job.”
And while studying at a top 50 business school and playing on a top 25 soccer team at the same time takes an incredible amount of organization and hard work, Courtney is no stranger to working hard.
As someone who grew up playing almost every sport, from volleyball to swimming to everything in between, Courtney began to dial in on soccer during middle school. When she was forced to choose between volleyball and soccer in 7th grade, she chose the latter and it wasn’t long before she caught college coaches’ attention. In fact, Courtney was already taking college visits during freshman year of high school. By the time summer rolled around that year she had verbally committed to Santa Clara.
If found in a similar situation, many people might have considered it their free pass through high school. However, Courtney continued to work hard both athletically and academically. While maintaining the 3.5 GPA Santa Clara required to uphold her offer, she also earned her spot as the kicker on her high school’s football team.
Her choice to come to Santa Clara was due to a combination of attractive qualities the university offered. In terms of soccer, the program at SCU was and continues to be amazing. With 33-year legendary head coach Jerry Smith at the helm, Courtney wanted to be part of building the program. After four years in a row of winning at least one NCAA tournament game since she’s been here, there’s no doubt that goal can be checked off the list.
At the same time, Courtney fell in love with the smaller, tight-knit community at Santa Clara. She liked the class sizes, couldn’t ignore the beautiful campus, and enjoyed that it was close to home. Not to mention, the chance to study in the Leavey School of Business was a fantastic opportunity.
Transitions into college have lots of moving parts for every new first-year, but Courtney and the rest of her teammates started theirs much earlier. The soccer team plays roughly half their season before school even starts, which gave first-year players a good chance to adjust to living away from home. However, when school came around, things got much busier.
“It was a quick transition,” she admitted while laughing. “It was tough. It was a rude awakening honestly, especially for how tough this business school is.”
Soccer added an extra layer of complication to everything related to academics. For example, while managing homework and tests is tricky for everyone, Courtney and her teammates have to travel for most of their away games. Organizing tests, completing what was missed, and communicating with professors about these circumstances can be a real added challenge that must be completed on an ongoing basis.
Even things as simple as course registration must be carefully planned out. During the season, the team has a practice block from 10:30am-1:00pm. Games are usually on Thursday or Friday nights, so players must also make sure to be out of class by 4:45pm on those days. With this information, it’s up to each player to schedule their classes outside of those times which often leads to lots and lots of 8:00am classes.
Along with practices and games, there are events such as team dinners and individual activities such as extra weight training, rehab, and watching film that must be completed on individual schedules. Therefore, time in between for homework or free time is often measured in minutes rather than hours.
“During season, you’re really only going to practice and going to school and sleeping and taking care of your body. It’s just finding the balance of those little one-hour segments in between practice and class to do the homework or finish the reading. There are really no gaps for any free time, so it’s just about making sure you’re on top of everything.”
And if you think a schedule like this might occasionally become overwhelming, you’re not alone. What’s the most difficult part of being a student-athlete at a school like Santa Clara?
For Courtney, it was accepting the sacrifices playing an NCAA Division I sport brings with it.
“I think [the toughest part] was just managing everything. At times it was just way too much and you have to make sacrifices in your life – whether that’s sacrificing your own mental health, or not doing your film work and your coach getting mad at you, or not doing your reading and your teacher getting mad at you.”
“It was just hard managing trying to be the best you can be every single day in everything you do.”
Fortunately, Courtney and the rest of the team have lots of support to continue to push them through the moments that get tough – whether it’s an understanding professor who goes out of their way to show that they care and understand, one of the academic advisors who are assigned to assist the soccer players with any academic issues, or the rest of the team who always has each other’s backs.
“We’re all in together, and we’re all just in that grind-mode wanting to do well in school and win a national championship [at the same time].”
And while being part of a sports team might often feel like one of the largest parts of any student’s identity on campus, Courtney emphasized that simply being a student in the business school made a pretty big impact as well.
“[I was definitely surprised by] how intelligent everyone was. I was just amazed by everyone in the business school really, and the professors here have been awesome.”
So, while Courtney Ogren may be enjoying her break for now, don’t expect her to stay uneventful for long. The Leavey School of Business is excited to see where she’ll end up next.