SIU volleyball players mix engineering, volleyball

By Gus Bode

Engineering has a reputation as being the toughest major on campus.

The work is technical, it’s complex and it’s time consuming. The average engineering student at SIU spends four hours every night doing homework, according to Electrical and Computer Engineering Academic Adviser Darcy Murphy.

And those four hours are in addition to the 20 or so they spend in classes and labs.

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Now imagine adding collegiate athletics to that.

“I probably don’t get as much sleep as I should because of this,” said senior engineering student and SIU volleyball player Kelly Harman. “You practice, you eat and do homework. There’s no time for anything else.”

Harman and senior Lindsey Schultz are both electrical engineering majors who have managed to balance the intensity of their major with the intensity demanded by volleyball head coach Sonya Locke.

Schultz said her schedule is so full, she doesn’t even bother to keep track of how many hours she puts in each week.

“I don’t even count,” Schultz said, implying she is too busy to bother with numbers.

SIU volleyball practices about 20 hours each week and is forced to travel extensively, causing Harman and Schultz to miss plenty of class and lab time. Harman will miss three classes today and Schultz will miss three because of this weekend’s pivotal road trip at Illinois State and Indiana State.

But Locke said class time never takes away from a student’s ability to perform on the volleyball court. It’s the other way around.

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“I don’t think volleyball is tougher, because it doesn’t take away time from volleyball other than when they have to go to class,” Locke said. “I think it makes classes harder because they could use more time to study, and volleyball takes away that time.”

Despite the difficulty, both Schultz and Harman said they are expecting A’s at the end of the semester.

Oddly enough, they give the credit to volleyball, which would, on the surface, appear to be a liability, but to Harman and Schultz is an asset.

“I don’t think I would get as good of grades if I didn’t have volleyball,” Harman said. “I wouldn’t be as disciplined to get my homework done on time and to work on task.”

Schultz and Harman said they are usually able to receive work ahead of time or are allowed to turn it in late, so their burden is eased by the support of their teachers and classmates, who, in many cases, are the volleyball team’s biggest fans.

Harman’s boyfriend, Matt Kelsey, is the leader of the “810 Superfans,” who are better known to SIU students as the engineering majors in fake afros beating a kettle drum at Davies Gymnasium.

According to Harman and Schultz, no school mixes the field of engineering and sports better than SIU.

Both considered more prestigious and smaller engineering schools, but those schools were Division III and could not offer a scholarship. Schultz considered Purdue, but figured she would have to walk onto the volleyball team.

SIU was the only school with a decent engineering program that could offer a scholarship. And neither was about to give up engineering.

For Schultz, it runs in the family. After high school, she was hooked on engineering.

“I have an uncle who’s an engineer and a cousin who’s an engineer,” Schultz said. “I just thought that since we’ve got all these engineers in the family, why not try it?”

High school teachers guided Harman toward her major.

“Since my junior year in high school, I’ve wanted to do this,” Harman said of engineering. “My teachers in high school said ‘Hey, you’re good at math and science, why don’t you look at engineering?'”

She’s been hooked since and, along with Schultz, would not give up an engineering major for an “easier” one despite the workload that comes with it. Harman and Schultz said a normal major would bore them so much that they would skip class and would most likely drop out of school.

“It would be harder,” Schultz said of another major. “I wouldn’t be interested in it at all. I would be bored and I wouldn’t go to class.”

Reporter Michael Brenner can be reached at [email protected]

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