YSU freshmen learn to juggle both academics, athletics

Jeremy Quinlan, a Youngstown State University baseball player, knows the fine line between academics and athletics.

The 2013 Brookfield High School graduate and Tribune Chronicle Male Athlete of the Year was the quarterback on the 2012 Warriors football team that went to the Division IV, Region 13 Final. He averaged a double-double for his 19-4 basketball team.

But his heart belonged to baseball. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound right-handed YSU freshman pitcher had 70 strikeouts with a 2.20 ERA. He batted .415 as well, which led him to join the Penguins team.

With all those accolades, his best accomplishment lies with his 3.83 GPA at Brookfield. It was his academic prowess that made him proud, which would explain his decision on YSU’s first road trip this season – to stay behind.

“The first road trip I didn’t go on because I was so frantic about my grades,” said Quinlan, who had a 3.3 GPA last semester at YSU. “(My coach) was completely fine with it. He said I could stay back and get tutors and stuff for it. That’s what I did.

“The next road trip, I talked to my teachers and stuff. I got to take tests even before we left. It’s been pretty good so far.”

The baseball team notched a 3.0 GPA during the fall, which impressed Dr. Chet Cooper, an associate professor of biology at YSU, and the school’s NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative.

“Baseball has the toughest travel schedule. Most people don’t realize that,” Cooper said. “They think it’s basketball or football, but it’s baseball because of their three-game series. When they go on the road, they go on the road for a long time. For them to have such a high GPA as a team is a credit to the student-athletes and their coach (Steve Gillispie).

“They are told to take whatever they need academically to study. I know coach puts the time aside for them to study while they’re on the road.”

When the team is at home, there are mandatory study tables designated for not only baseball, but all sports. But, finding the balance between academics and athletics isn’t always easy. Ask YSU freshman high jumper Erika Airhart, a 2013 Howland High School graduate.

“It’s definitely a struggle some days, going from practicing,” said Airhart, who had a 4.0 GPA during the fall semester. “From there, I go straight home and I’ll be either studying or getting together with people from my classes. A lot of late hours doing homework.”

Airhart, who competes in indoor and outdoor track and field, said there is a good amount of juggling of schedules that goes on within the lives of student-athletes.

“We had a meet when I had a class,” she said. “Coach (Brian Gorby) worked with me. My professor worked with me. I went in the next Monday and took the quiz during practice and came to practice.”

As for Quinlan, both of his parents, Daniel and Stefanie, work in the chemical engineering field. He got some sage advice from Stefanie and Marilyn O’Bruba, YSU’s Coordinator of Athletic Academic Advising.

“Take most of my major courses in the fall, then lighten the load in the spring because we’re going to be on the road a lot,” Quinlan said. “That’s what my mom’s been telling me and what Marilyn has been telling me. That’s probably something I’m going to do. And, take some summer classes, probably, too.”