How to balance finals in the middle of the season? Three athletes break it down

Shenneika Smith – photo by St. John’s University

Mid-December each year, college basketball teams go on at least a week hiatus from games so they can take final exams for fall semester or quarter. During this time, practices are also reduced in frequency and length to give athletes time to study and complete final projects.

Three finals veterans took time out to discuss the way they balance being both students and athletes: Shenneika Smith, senior guard at St. John’s; Jazmine Redmon, junior guard at Gonzaga; and Malia Magazzeni, senior forward at New Mexico State University.

Sue Favor: What happens during finals week in December? How do practices change?

Shenneika Smith: Practices adjust to when we get out of classes. Our coaches are very flexible and they allow us either to be late to practice, or we push back the practice starting time.

Jazmine Redmon: Practices changes from going four or five times a week to going to twice or three times a week.We will usually practice and lift in the practice time slot.
Malia Magazzeni: The coaches really work around our schedules and figure out what times are best for everyone. Then, practices aren’t as long because they know we need time to study.
Sue Favor: Do you and your teammates study together, or do you prefer to study by yourself?
Shenneika Smith: We’ll have group study hall sometimes if we have the same professor or class, and we do study together sometimes. We also have great tutors available to us if we need them.
Jazmine Redmon: I like to study by myself because I’m easily distracted, and sometimes my teammates are a little crazy.
Malia Magazzeni: It depends on if we have the same class, and teammates do get together to study sometimes. We have a lot of tutors available, but normally I’ll study by myself. If people need help, us seniors will take the freshmen under our wings and help them.
Sue Favor: How do you balance the demands of being a student with the demands of being an athlete?
Shenneika Smith: Being a senior, I have more of an idea how to balance it all out and get things done. You make adjustments, because you have an obligation to be a students as well as an athlete. You do what you have to do.
As a freshman, I was always tired during finals time, but I had a lot of help. We have great academic advisors who helped us make a plan. The freshmen this year are handling it better than I did then.
Jazmine Redmon: Balancing school and basketball came with practice. Freshman year I was horrible at balancing my time between the two. Since it’s my third year going through finals, it’s almost a habit to find time for both. I really can’t explain. The coaches also makes it easier on us by not having practice so much. Because we are student athletes.
Malia Magazzeni: I have to set up a schedule. I coordinate what’s important and what to get done first. I don’t put things off, so I prioritize.
Sue Favor: Do you have any special study tips?
Shenneika Smith: As I read, I write down notes. I focus on the important information.
Jazmine Redmon: While I study I like to write things out and make lots of note cards.
Malia Magazzeni: I pay attention and read what’s required. I emphasize reading in my studying, and focusing in on key terms. I read the book before I go to class.
Sue Favor: What is your favorite way to take a study break?
Shenneika Smith: I like to play “Call of Duty” (video game).
Jazmine Redmon: My favorite way to take a study break is either to take a little nap, or grab some food and watch a little tv.
Malia Magazzeni: If I’ve been reading a book, I do something completely opposite of that, like watch TV and eat some food.


Jazmine Redmon – photo by Gonzaga University
Malia Magazzeni – photo by New Mexico State University