A day in the life of a University of Portland athlete

By The Beacon | September 22, 2010 9:00pm

Sophomore Marc Tonkel (left) converses with junior Ryan Kawulok in the computer lab of Franz Hall. (Bruce Garlinghouse -- The Beacon)

By Bruce Garlinghouse, Staff Writer -- garlingh13@up.edu

You see them every day walking around campus in their Portland Athletics gear. You see them in The Commons or The Cove eating (usually more than the average student).

You see them in your classes, sometimes striding in two minutes late, icepacks and tape around their knees or elbows their silent excuse.

You see them practicing set pieces on the practice field, or running along Willamette Boulevard.

But do you ever wonder what exactly the day of an athlete entails?

Sophomore men's soccer defender Marc Tonkel begins his Tuesday like you and me.

He wakes up. Showers. Fixes his hair. Gets dressed. Eats breakfast. Goes to class. Eats lunch. Pretty standard.

"We're students first just like everybody else," Tonkel said. "We just have to make sure we manage our time well to make time for school after practices and everything."

This is where his day becomes a little different. Tonkel then heads back to his dorm and gets dressed in his workout clothes consisting of a black jersey with his number, black shorts and black Nike trainers.

Then it's off to the athletes' workout facility in the Chiles Center to warm up, stretch and get his workout in.

"Workouts are kind of up for grabs. There isn't really a set time for you to do it, you just have to make sure you get it in," Tonkel said.

After a strenuous workout, Tonkel and some other teammates head back to the locker room to get ready for practice and then it's straight to the field for a two-hour practice.

So far, Tonkel has spent three hours dedicated to soccer — three hours you spent playing 15 games of Call of Duty.

Three hours that you spent frantically finishing that Biblical Traditions paper you put off til three hours before class.

Three hours you spent to catch up on the sleep you missed last night studying for that accounting test.

Three hours on a college campus is a treasure — a treasure that Tonkel rarely receives.

"The biggest thing an athlete can do to be successful in both athletics and school is good time management," Director of Athletic Performance Brad Scott said.

Scott also added that good nutrition and staying fueled is essential in remaining successful in both areas.

"I recommend my athletes eat around five to seven times a day," Scott said.

Along with the five to seven meals, Scott said it's important that an athlete continues to snack and hydrate all day.

"I usually eat around five times a day," said Tonkel. "I eat the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as after workouts and practices. And, of course, a midnight snack."

After practice, Tonkel usually heads to the library and then to dinner.

With training and practice every day, as well as traveling almost every other week, it's hard to imagine how athletes balance athletics as well as a heavy course load. Tonkel said he couldn't do it without the help of his teachers.

"They give us a lot of help on homework and reasonable times to get papers in," Tonkel said.

Tonkel said the teachers are also very good about keeping them up on what they missed in class while they were traveling.

What may come as a surprise is that this is a relatively relaxed day for Tonkel.

"My Monday, Wednesday, Fridays are usually a bit busier with more classes," Tonkel said.

Game days are a bit more relaxed for Tonkel. It starts with a team breakfast provided by The Commons and then it's time to focus and get pumped with his game day playlist consisting of, Tonkel said, "music little kids shouldn't listen to."

Tonkel says he usually eats around five meals a day! (Bruce Garlinghouse -- The Beacon)