Student athletes’ double life: work hard and play hard

Hannigan is a senior baseball player who also works for the bio department. Photo courtesy of UD Athletics.

Get to know these familiar faces at the UD clinic and Haggerty’s basement

Being a college student can feel like a huge load in and of itself, but you should remember that this is the time of your life to capitalize on amazing opportunities to explore what you love. Sean Hannigan, senior baseball player #7 and biochemistry major, and Jennifer Schmalz, junior softball player #12 and biology major, stand out as two-star examples of what it means to balance hectic lives joyfully while keeping their cool. Schmalz works at the university’s health clinic while Hannigan tutors biology students in the Haggerty Science Center.

Both have played their respective sports since childhood, and both have found their teams’ tight-knit communities to be constant sources of fellowship and strength.

Hannigan said, “I have made a lot of long-lasting friendships, not just with guys in my class, but with other guys younger and older than me. That’s a really big part of why I’m continuing to play baseball; it gives me that sense of family that I think I really need. It helps me have a sense of purpose about my day-to-day life.”

“I love [my teammates ] so much. And that, I think, is the biggest reason I’m still playing,” Schmalz said. “I would put more time into research if I wasn’t doing softball, or I would do the health clinic if I wasn’t doing softball, but I’m choosing to spend my time there and I’m excited. I want to be a positive influence for them.”

Schmalz is a junior softball player who also works at the UD Health clinic. Photo courtesy of UD Athletics.

As upperclassmen, both hope to bring more highly deserved appreciation for UD athletics to our campus through their campus influence and the teams’ talent this season. Hannigan, in particular, is confident for this season’s outcome as it is his last season.

Hannigan shared, “I feel like if we show the school that we can do something for y’all and give us some pride, that might help bridge the gap.”

Both student athlete workers also loved their UD courses and professors. Hannigan’s favorite class was Philosophy of the Human Person with Dr. Otte last fall. Dr. Otte was an inspiring role model for Hannigan in respect to what a person ought to be.

“Dr. Otte is big on athletics, going and having fun at sports; he says to be a well-rounded person you need a warrior spirit and a mental spirit,” Hannigan said. “I feel like I embody this.”

Schmalz shared, “My favorite professor was Dr. Scobel; she really cares that you learn the information well, but also that you’re doing well as a person.”

Schmalz not only holds a job at the University’s health clinic, but she also currently researches with the biology department on seahorse embryos. Schmalz highly recommends that freshmen who are interested in healthcare take the very simple steps involved in applying for work at the health clinic.

“It is a fantastic experience,” Schmalz said. “Dr. Rodriguez is incredible. She’s super, super patient. Super caring. She just gets it! She gets what it’s like to be a student.”

Hannigan did research last summer at Clemson University on molecular organic cages, or MOCs, which conduct electricity in a solid state, unlike your typical solid-liquid lithium battery.

Both students also maintain vibrant lives outside of their coursework and jobs. Hannigan enjoys hiking and camping, having been an Eagle Scout in high school while Schmalz has worked in hospice, something that gave her a beautiful perspective on healthcare.

“Before I only thought of medicine as fixing problems,” Schmalz said. “And now, I like the shift that volunteering has given me to see that it should be more about quality of life, not just like always fixing the problem, and more focusing on what makes the person’s life worth living. I just think that’s so beautiful.”

Hannigan noted, “Even though I would really love to just go off and do spontaneous things, like go get my motorcycle license, go hunting, stuff like that, with my course load and baseball, it has just been a little hard.” However, as a biology tutor, Hannigan manages his schedule very well while still maintaining a balanced and ordered life.

When asked what advice she would give to students feeling overwhelmed, Schmalz shared a unique perspective, “People will say, ‘it’s all about time management,’ and I actually disagree with that … There are times that there’s not enough time to get everything done. I call it cutting my losses. Just focus on what you can control. If it’s not everything you want to do, it’ll be okay. I tell the freshmen all the time.”

Hannigan and Schmalz both serve as awesome reminders of the Crusader (and Groundhog) spirit of kindness, hard work, and perseverance. Our campus is lucky to have them here.


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