Lessons learned by a student athlete
Alison Johnson is a senior at Albany's College of Saint Rose and plays on the women's basketball team. Alison is known as Ali to her friends and teammates.
Ali grew up in Falls Church, Virginia and completed her final college season for the Golden Knights. She started playing basketball 15 years ago when she was seven, after being encouraged to try out for a local team by her mom.
Ali says, "I never regretted being a student athlete." She says this despite the challenges of school work, a busy schedule of practices and games and injuries.
The six-foot, two-inch tall Johnson says that planning ahead is key to being a student athlete. "You need to carve out time during your day to do specific things." During the season she may spend four hours on basketball and three hours on homework each day.
Ali knows that balancing school and sports is difficult at times but says it is worth it. "You can never replace the things you learn by playing sports. I am a huge advocate of kids playing sports." In addition to the health benefits, Ali says that basketball and other sports teach teamwork, how to deal with teammates, how to handle constructive criticism, how to keep a schedule and the importance of persistence. "There are times when you are exhausted and you want to go to bed but you can't, because you have homework," she said. "I think that sometimes it is hard, but it is worth it." With her four years at Saint Rose coming to a close she is now starting to look to the future and hopefully toward law school. She has made lots of friends and her team has become her second family. When she first came to Saint Rose she was a little homesick but her team and coach were all supportive of her.
"Although I had been homesick a couple of times I never really wanted to leave," she recalled. "I definitely picked the right school for me!" In Ali's experience her coaches have played a big part of her time as a student athlete. Ali says her college coach, Karen Haag, demanded excellence on and off the court.
"She expected a certain level of excellence from each and every one of us. She knew what our capabilities were, and when we failed to live up to those capabilities she would get frustrated and push us harder until we reached our full potential." Earlier this year Alison's achievements on the court and in the classroom were recognized by her league when she was named to the North East Ten, Commissioner's honor roll. It celebrated student-athletes from each of the conference's 16 institutions for their success in the classroom.