Engineering and Cross Country

I’m a part of the NYU women’s cross country and track and field teams. Cross Country is a fall sport, while indoor track is in the winter and outdoor is in the spring. This means I am basically training and competing continuously as my seasons are back-to-back and year-round. I am also a civil engineering major at Tandon and am minoring in urban design and architectural studies at CAS. 

In terms of my running career, I have practices every day at 2 p.m. The team meets at Palladium and then either takes the subway up to Central Park for workouts or runs to East Riverside Park to use the track.  On Mondays and Wednesdays, we do casual recovery runs through the city. Weekends usually involve traveling to a meet from Friday to Saturday evening, then meeting back up with the team for a long run on Sunday morning at Van Cortland Park, Central Park or sometimes Rockefeller State Park.  

These commitments present two major challenges: working around my busy class schedule to fit practices in and keeping up on the workload of an engineering curriculum while travelling almost every weekend. One of the most stressful parts of planning a new schedule is looking at the list of classes I must fit into my semester and trying to find time for practice in between them. Cross country and track are both team sports as well as being individual, so there are specific practice times and It is important to be able to run with the team as much as possible to get to know the team dynamic and gel as a group.  

Most people on the team have some sort of class conflict, but I have noticed myself and other Tandon athletes struggling more with scheduling classes around practice times. I believe this is because of how strict the curriculum is for most majors at Tandon, not to mention the location, and the limited options for some courses. For most majors at Tandon, picking classes for each semester does not involve a lot of actual choosing of classes: each engineering major must abide by a strict curriculum of courses taught by specific instructors in a very specific order. I don’t really choose what civil engineering classes to take — each class usually only has one professor who teaches it at a particular time, limiting my options. This means I just have to make my academic schedule and hope it coincidentally leaves room for me to practice with my team some days of the week.   

All athletes at NYU are student athletes; the responsibility of being a student comes first as we are supposed to prioritize our academics. Everyone on the team does this, but we are all also very committed to our team and try our best to balance both so that our athletics do not suffer. Over the past few semesters, I have scheduled my classes around practice times to the best of my ability, but there are always some days that just don’t work. Though I do my best, this semester I have certain classes that conflict with team workouts, meaning I have to supplement these with workouts of my own. 

On top of scheduling conflicts, I must contend with the intense workload of an engineering major. Most weekends are spent traveling, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of room to catch up on schoolwork. Regardless of major, I would imagine that every student has difficulty finishing all of their work in a timely manner.

At the end of the day, I am an engineering student, and I love it. I am a runner for NYU, and I love it. It’s an amazing experience to be a student-athlete. Having wonderful teammates that I spend so much time with is a great addition to college life. There are numerous challenges that come with balancing an engineering curriculum and the busy schedule of a varsity athlete, but in the long run, I think it’s worth it. Nothing compares to looking back at a semester and realizing that not only am I one step closer to getting an engineering degree, but also that I now have so many great memories and accomplishments from being an athlete to go along with it. I love being part of the team. There’s a special bond that forms between runners, especially when they spend so much time together. 

Email Emily Dethlefs at [email protected].