Patience and prioritization-that’s what two food studies majors at the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics say it takes to succeed in both the classroom and Division I sports.
Eli Silvi Uattara ’16 came 4,800 miles from Voronezh in the Russian Federation to study and compete at Syracuse University. She played outside hitter on the volleyball team, which she captained the past two years. During her career, she was twice named First-Team All-ACC.
“Patience is probably the most useful quality for a student athlete, because there are always going to be difficult moments in sports and in academic and student life,” Uattara says. “It’s hard to manage everything, but who said it was going to be easy?”
That’s why you get your priorities straight, says Deirdre Fitzpatrick ’16, who rows port on the SU women’s crew and whose trip home to Cheshire, Connecticut, is only 200 miles. Her honors include 2015 First-Team All-ACC, Second-Team All-American, and Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) National Scholar Athlete.
“Being a student athlete has really taught me about organization and prioritization,” she says. “You need to balance school and athletics with sleep, cooking and eating, homework, and social life. All are equally important in order to be good at both sports and academics.”
Uattara says she’s always been interested in food, “not only its consumption but all aspects, from food chemistry and microbiology through the cooking process, quality, and distribution.” For Fitzpatrick, “I simply love food and think that everyone should be informed about the risks and benefits of certain foods and how to access good, healthy, sustainable food.”
Both say sports powers stronger academics. “Sports makes people be more dedicated to what they do, whether it is the sport or academics,” Uattara says. “Athletes cannot perform if they give less than 100 percent, and this benefits my school work as well.”
Fitzpatrick concurs. “I think the lesson you learn from sports is that you have to practice to be good at something. It’s the same for school. To do well, you can’t just go to class and take the test. You need to do the readings, understand the concepts, and apply the knowledge.”
Uattara wants to play professional volleyball after college. Fitzpatrick is applying to Teach for America, saying, “I think I will finish my rowing career here at ‘Cuse.”
Both have met a big challenge. Fitzpatrick figures practice takes 17 hours a week; she studies three hours nightly. Says Uattara, “There are lots of nights where I stayed up to finish one thing or another, then made it to practice the next day. Athletes are probably the busiest people in college.”
The outside hitter and port rower-and food studies majors-wouldn’t want it any other way.