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Varsity Athletics in Law School

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Hi Everyone! How realistic is it to continue my participation on a Varsity team while in law school? If anyone has any experience with this, or knows anyone who has, I would appreciate any insight. Quick follow up, if I redshirt 1L to focus on grades, is it more doable to be on a team in 2L/3L years? Thank you! :) 

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I don't really know what the time commitment of varsity sports are (so take this whole comment with a grain of salt) but it's generally not recommended to work during 1L unless you have to, so I'd imagine varsity sports would be pretty distracting.

Depending on the courses you pick, 2L and 3L would be easier to balance but probably still tough.

A law school classmate of mine assistant coached the university's varsity basketball team but didn't go to away games.

I think traveling/away games would be the most difficult part. You could probably fit in regular practices and home games - I managed to powerlift/play intramural sports 6 days a week throughout law school.

Edited by canuckfanatic

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I’m a 0L, but from playing Varsity Sports and still have friends on teams where they have members in Law School. If you were to Redshirt in 1L I think the experience would be a lot easier, but the possibility of playing Varsity during 1L depends a lot on how understanding the school is, and how willing you are to make extra steps and commitments to playing. Travel is the biggest issue from what I understand, with special accommodations needing to be made to have people to even make games. Along with your coach needs to be understanding of how much time you’ll need to put towards 1L. 

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I know a really smart guy at UofT who was on the varsity rugby team and quit early on because he said it was "absolutely impossible" to balance the two. I also know of a now-graduated student who was a varsity figure skater throughout law school but also had very good grades - everyone on Bay St was after her lol

Edited by Prospero

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2 hours ago, artsydork said:

@epeeist Weren't you varsity back in your law school days?

Years ago (not recently!). I took up fencing 2L starting with an instructional class at Queen's (wanted to take up sport that sounded interesting and get some fun exercise), then joined Queen's recreational club which had some joint practices and went to some Ontario tournaments (ones open to public, obviously only varsity did university competition) with varsity, became varsity fencer 3L. So I wasn't continuing a sport I'd started already before law school.

My recollection is that about 5 or 6 other law students in my year, by the time of graduation, had a varsity letter. I think one was rowing (?) but can't recall others or whether they had continued or taken up a sport during law school or what the relative time commitments were. For me it was several hours several times per week (2-4 times; the head coach was sympathetic if I couldn't make a practice, some wouldn't be, and for some sports it would be more not a problem for others if one missed a practice).

With the benefit of hindsight I could have managed the varsity fencing time commitment during 1L, but don't think it would have been advisable to start law school with that time commitment. Search the board, I think some have posted about continuing a varsity sport in 1L.

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I know a guy who played varsity football during 1L, made the dean's list, and did very well during OCIs.

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I know two people who ran Varsity during law school. They were fine athletes, but not the top of their game. No idea how they performed in law school. 

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Thanks for the advice/input everyone! I feel like I'll have to mull this over for a while, but I feel like I'm leaning towards staying on the team. My coaches are quite supportive so if I can't handle the time commitment I'll have some flexibility. 

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One thing I would take into consideration is how long your season spans. Sports like football have shorter seasons given they are outdoor sports and are limited to when the weather is decently good. Sports like that would require a lot of effort for a shorter amount of time, and then you would be able to focus more on school during the off-season, perhaps making it more manageable. Other sports like hockey and volleyball span from August to as late as March, and so you're going to have to grind for basically the entire school year. 

I was on a varsity team in undergrad and after my first year I found it pretty manageable even with a full course load. I still have one year eligibility left, but I'm not going to use it while in law school - I don't think it's worth the risk of poor 1L grades. just my opinion though - it sounds like you have a pretty supportive coaching staff which will definitely help. good luck!

Edited by displayname123
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On 1/20/2021 at 3:54 PM, displayname123 said:

One thing I would take into consideration is how long your season spans. Sports like football have shorter seasons given they are outdoor sports and are limited to when the weather is decently good. Sports like that would require a lot of effort for a shorter amount of time, and then you would be able to focus more on school during the off-season, perhaps making it more manageable. Other sports like hockey and volleyball span from August to as late as March, and so you're going to have to grind for basically the entire school year. 

I was on a varsity team in undergrad and after my first year I found it pretty manageable even with a full course load. I still have one year eligibility left, but I'm not going to use it while in law school - I don't think it's worth the risk of poor 1L grades. just my opinion though - it sounds like you have a pretty supportive coaching staff which will definitely help. good luck!

This is what I came to say. I graduated in 2016, but unless things have changed, your 1L courses are typically full year endeavors with 100% finals in April. It might be a stressful few months, but I don't see why a sport like football, for example, would not be feasible in 1L. Doesn't the season end in November?

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