Nov. 11, 2009
Ninth blog: So you want to be a university basketball player?
By Brendan O'Hallarn
Pretty sweet gig, this being a scholarship athlete.
You go to a few classes, shoot a few hoops, and your university education is paid for. What a bargain, right? Well, take a look at the schedule of a university basketball player and see how much of a "bargain" it is.
I did just that with Trian Iliadis, sophomore guard on the team and excellent student. Iliadis, from Perth, Australia, maintained a 3.95 grade point average his freshman year in biochemistry. He hopes to go to pharmacy school when he finishes at ODU.
Before we talked, I asked Trian to email me a typical week's schedule, broken down by the hour. I got tired just reading it.
Fifteen hours of class, including calculus and chemistry, six basketball practices, weights three times a week plus a dozen hours for homework - not to mention talking twice a week with his parents in Australia - fill every waking second of Iliadis' week.
Take Monday - Chemistry 9-10 a.m., Calculus 11-12:30, practice from 1:30-3:30, weights from 3:30-4:30 and homework from 8 p.m. until he collapses in bed.
Or Wednesday - when he adds three hours of chemistry lab to what he does on Monday.
Being organized "is probably the most important thing we have to do," Iliadis says. "Sometimes I may not be as organized as I'd like to be, so that means I might have to stay up later organizing everything. But most days I try to keep on top of things, especially days like today when we don't have practice."
Iliadis says the guys on the team tease him a little bit for having such a big brain.
"They're good with it. They know that I hold my academics pretty highly, so they respect that," he said.
"They sometimes get on my back for having really good grades. They wish they had the same. But we all have different ways of coping with the stress of this. They're really good with it."
Iliadis said his parents, both university graduates (father Ilias is an architect back in Perth, mom Athena is trained as an interior designer and works at a real estate company) instilled a strong work ethic. He and his parents actually researched the type of classes he'd need to take, and the grades he'd need to make, to get into pharmacy school when his playing days are over.
However, no matter how strong a student Iliadis is, he and every student-athlete at ODU gets invaluable help from an academic adviser.
Iliadis said April Brecht, who is the academic adviser for the men's basketball and a handful of other ODU athletic teams, will help student-athletes pick classes that fit their schedule that still meet their requirements to graduate. They'll offer counseling and remedial assistance for students who fall behind, even do the necessary administrative work for athletes who miss class occasionally when competing for ODU out of town.
"April may come with us on the road to proffer our exams. Last year, I took a biology test in Richmond," Iliadis said.
Despite his stellar marks, Iliadis did confess something. Calculus is a bit of a pain.
"It's kind of interesting, but I don't see why I need to know the derivatives and anti-derivatives of something when I want to become a pharmacist," he says.
"It's something that I have to do, so I'll try to do my best when I'm in it."
Brendan's Blog 46