How UMD cheerleader balances student-athlete lifestyle
By Fiona Flowers
November 27, 2023
Image Credit: Photo by the University of Maryland athletics department
For college students, maintaining a healthy balance between academics and social life can be difficult. This challenge is exacerbated for student-athletes, especially at Division I schools like the University of Maryland.
Kalei Murray, a sophomore animal science major on the pre-professional track, joined the cheerleading squad as a walk-on. While she began practices before arriving on campus, she said adjusting to a structured student-athlete environment was overwhelming.
“Coming to college is a scary thing for all new students, especially student athletes. We have to adapt to new academic and athletic environments, and become part of a larger team,” she said. “It’s a huge adjustment.”
Murray is also a member of Greek life on campus, and said her demanding athletic schedule often causes her to miss social events, but the sacrifice comes with the territory.
“It can definitely be annoying when all my friends are going out to do something fun, and I have to stay behind because I have 6 a.m. practice,” she said. “Especially as a STEM major. Add in my workout schedule, especially during football season, and time management is hard.”
Murray said that the athletics department provides academic resources for students to stay on top of their work and prioritize their school performance, which is a requirement to remain on the team.
“Our academic advisors make us send in our grades every Friday to see if we need any extra help, and they give us free tutoring services,” she said.
Overall, Murray credits her involvement with the cheer squad as one of the most positive aspects of her college experience thus far.
“As long as you understand what you are signing up for and manage your time wisely, it will all pay off,” she says. “It’s so rewarding to cheer at games to the crowds, and I think all athletes get that satisfaction. I can’t imagine not being a part of it.”
More information on the Maryland athletics department and the student-athlete experience can be found at https://umterps.com/.