1). Name: Hayleigh Cudmore
2). Sport: Hockey
3). Athletic Accomplishments: 2010 U18 World Champion, 2010-2014 NCAA Division I Athlete, 2016 Clarkson Cup Champion, National Women's Hockey Team Program 2009-2015
4). Academic Accomplishments: BA Cornell University 2014, Juris Doctor Calgary 2017
5). Current Role(s): Lawyer
6). Why did you find it important/ necessary to pursue athletics and academics together?
For me I couldn't be just an athlete. Not that there is anything wrong with pursuing your sport with 100% of your being, in fact I envy those who can do that. Personally, it was important to me to pursue a professional degree so that knew I was employable when my athletic career ended. I think that student life is actually more conducive to being an athlete than trying to start your second career simultaneous to your athletic career, because the bulk of your work as a student can be done on your own schedule. 80% of student life can be done in sweatpants, something that fits well into an athlete's lifestyle. In contrast, building a secondary career would mean going to work all day and being "on" for 8-10 hours. This, in addition to training can lead to fatigue very quickly.
As an athlete you can only push your body for so many hours in a day and then you have to account for your physical recovery. As a student, you are forced to exercise your brain every day. The two can be complimentary if balanced correctly.
7). What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced while you were a student-athlete:
This question is easy; time management. It’s something that elite athletes have faced their entire lives, and it never gets easier. Depending on your sport, taking time away for competition and missing classes is always a struggle. On the one hand, it is nice when professors can be flexible to accommodate you. On the other, you do not want to take away from the integrity of your education.
8). What were the advantages & benefits:
The "time management" piece above is of course the first one that prospective employers jump to for student-athletes. I think bigger than that, if you get (some of) the qualifications for your next career, then you can actually reap the benefits of the qualities that athletics has taught you (i.e. work ethic, toughness and humility), instead of starting back at square one.
When an athlete retires, an employer will look at the person who is immediately ready to jump in to the workforce as an "athlete", bringing with them all of the qualities listed above that we all like to think are our core attributes. When an athlete retires, and then takes 3 or 4 years to get qualified for any job they actually want, then the employer is no longer hiring an "athlete" they are hiring "someone who used to play X or Y competitively." It's a subtle difference, but the further down your resume your athletic career goes, and the more time that passes, the less compelling those years of competition might be to anyone considering you. It’s a harsh reality, but you can only play the "athlete" card for so long.
9). Do you have any advice to those currently pursuing or considering pursuing athletic and academics simultaneously?