|Engineering Athletes Succeeding on the Field and in the Classroom|
Balancing the work load of being a varsity college athlete and a student is tough, especially when the athlete is an engineering student. The Lee College of Engineering has a large number of student athletes who are training hard and studying hard, and with some help from understanding professors and advisors are succeeding.
“We recruit student athletes and say ‘yes you can do a sport and engineering and graduate here,’” said Mark Verburg an academic advisor for the 49ers Athletic Department. “We’re successful because the engineering people are so incredibly supportive. They have excellent advisors and academic support programs. The engineering professors are helpful in scheduling class and test times.”
The Lee College of Engineering currently has 13 varsity athletes among its students. Their sports include baseball, soccer, volleyball and track.
“I’ve been here 10 years and in that time we’ve had a very consistent group of engineering student athletes,” Verburg said. “Some of the standouts were John Maine who went on the pitch for the Mets, and Cassie Ficken who was an All American and Academic All American in track.”
The college of engineering has had a particularly large run of baseball players.
“Baseball plays 56 games a year,” Verburg said. “Because of the long schedule a lot of other universities tell baseball players they can’t successfully do engineering. Our engineering program is so good and supportive of the students that we don’t have that problem. We tell our students that if they put in the work they can do it. So, we get a lot of baseball players who want to be engineers here.”
Michael Green is a Mechanical Engineering student from Richmond, Virginia, and a baseball player. He says the time commitment for baseball is big, taking about 23 hours a week in the off season and 38 hours a week during the season.
“During the season we put in a lot of time before the games,” Green said. “I am usually on the field four hours before competition and we play four to five times a week. We usually get one day off a week. And then there is the travel. On away weekend series we leave on Thursday mornings and return Sunday nights or Monday mornings.”
Keeping up with engineering studies is tough, Green said. “The problem is not managing the time, it’s just that you don't have the time to manage. You get used to it, but what suffers is the amount of time you have to study and produce quality work.”
Christina Drake is a sophomore Civil Engineering major from Greer, South Carolina, and a volleyball player. She practices volleyball 15 to 20 hours a week depending on the season and also does 45 minutes of weight training twice a week.
“When I came to visit the campus I fell in love with UNC Charlotte,” Drake said. “I was told that engineering is flexible with its class schedules and that I could do engineering here.
“So far everything is going well in my engineering classes. I’ve learned that I have to do a lot of planning on what homework needs to be done and I can’t wait until the last minute. All my professors have been helpful. I give them my game schedule the first day of class and we work everything out. I love to be busy, so I’m very happy. I don’t have a social life, but I love it here.”
The current 49er engineering varsity athletes are:
Patric King, Civil Engineering, Baseball
Brandon DeLong, Construction Management, Baseball
J.J. Elseser, Mechanical Engineering, Baseball
Michael Green, Mechanical Engineering, Baseball
Jordan McNeely, Mechanical Engineering, Baseball
Tyler Duncan, Civil Engineering, Soccer
Jennings Rex, Civil Engineering, Soccer
Thomas Allen, Civil Engineering Technology, Soccer
Christina Drake, Civil Engineering, Volleyball
Nicholas Swan, Civil Engineering Technology, Track
Scott Oosthuysen, Construction Management, Track